MODELING NITROGEN TRANSFORMATIONS IN FRESH-WATER WETLANDS - ESTIMATING NITROGEN-RETENTION AND REMOVAL IN NATURAL WETLANDS IN RELATION TO THEIR HYDROLOGY AND NUTRIENT LOADINGS

  • DORGE J
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Abstract

The agricultural utilization of the transition zone between the
terrestrial and the aquatic system has strongly reduced these important
buffer zones in the last 30 years. The reestablishment of wetlands in
relation to the aquatic environment is getting more and more in focus in
the debate on eutrophication. A general simulation model has been
developed for freshwater wetlands to determine the retention and removal
of nitrogen in wetlands as water flows from intensively cultivated farm
land through wetlands and into the aquatic system. The model consists of
a simple hydrological submodel and a more complex biological submodel
including heterotrophic nitrogen dynamics and plant uptake. The whole
biogeochemical pathway from mineralization of organic matter to ammonia
and further to nitrate in the oxic microzone by nitrifiers, before
denitrification, is explicitly modelled. The model has been calibrated
with field data from three wetlands with different levels of
NO3--loading (587-1502 kg NO3--N/ha . y) and vegetation. The calculated
N-retention varies from 0 to 107 kg N/ha . y and the denitrification
from 199 to 743 kg NO3--N/ha . y with the lowest value in a
Sphagnum-dominated wetland and the highest in a reed swamp. The wetland
model can be applied to a model system describing the nitrogen turnover
and transport from agricultural fertilization through soil and
groundwater processes to the final washout into the aquatic environment.
Moreover, the model can be used as a prognostic tool for an assessment
of the potential effects on the aquatic ecosystem if relevant wetlands
were reestablished.

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Authors

  • J DORGE

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