Hot “spoments” in river networks.

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:15 PM
Antoine F Aubeneau1, Tomás Aquino1, Diogo Bolster1, Jennifer L. Tank1 and Aaron Ian Packman2, (1)University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, United States, (2)Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States
Hot spots and hot moments are usually studied at small scales. These small patches or periods of abnormally high biogeochemical activity have been linked to the interface between the terrestrial and aquatic environments and to the benthic ecotone in streams. Here, we revisit the concepts of hot spots and moments in river networks. We specifically consider cases of carbon and nitrogen cycling and explore the interaction between spatial and temporal signals to identify “hot spoments” in the network. We present field data showing that biogeochemical and hydrological processes alternatively control dissolved carbon and nitrogen fluxes. Field experiments and numerical simulations show that both headwater streams and rivers can be efficient at removing nutrients and carbon from the flowing water, but typically under contrasting climatic forcing. We also present new analytical models leveraging graph theory that describe how different parts of the network are biogeochemically active at different times. Taken together, our results suggest that hot-moments depend on space and hot-spots on time, and vice versa. In other words, unusually high biogeochemical activity may be found in different places at different times along river networks. Our simulations suggest that hot “spoments” impact large scale (spatial and temporal) budgets of carbon and nitrogen export from watersheds.