Influence of Anthropogenic Nutrient Additions on Greenhouse Gas Production Rates at Water-soil Interfaces in an Urban Dominated Estuary

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Brian A Brigham, Gregory D O'Mullan and Jeffrey A Bird, Queens College, CUNY, Queens, NY, United States
The tidal Hudson River Estuary (HRE) receives significant inputs of readily dissolvable carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) from incomplete wastewater treatment and sewer overflow during storm events associated with NYC and other urban centers. Nutrient deposition may alter C utilization in the estuarine water column, associated sediments and surrounding wetlands. In these anaerobic systems, we hypothesize that microbial activity is limited by the availability of easily-degradable C (not electron acceptors), which acts as a co-metabolite and provides energy for organic matter decomposition. Sporadic transport of highly C enriched storm derived runoff may substantially enhance greenhouse gas (GHG) production rates through the utilization of stored C pools. To test our hypothesis carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) process rates (1) were evaluated from soil cores removed from three distinct HRE wetland sites (Saw Mill Creek, Piermont, and Iona Island Marsh(s)) across a salinity gradient and incubated under varying nutrient treatments. Further, CO2 and CH4 surface water effluxes (2) were quantified from multiple river cruises spanning two years at varying distance from nutrient sources associated with NYC. Incubation experiments from wetland soil core experiments demonstrated that readily degradable C but not inorganic N additions stimulated GHG production (200 - 350 ug C g-1 of dry soil day-1) threefold compared to negative controls. The HRE was found to be both a CO2 and CH4 source under all conditions. The greatest GHG efflux (300 – 3000 nmoles C m-2 day-1) was quantified in mid-channel, tributary, and near shore sites in close proximity to NYC which following precipitation events demonstrated 2-20X increased GHG efflux. These results demonstrate that anthropogenic C additions associated with dense urban centers have the potential to enhance anaerobic microbial degradation of organic matter and subsequent GHG production.