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Creators/Authors contains: "Bowden, William B."

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  1. Abstract

    Climate change is rapidly altering hydrological processes and consequently the structure and functioning of Arctic ecosystems. Predicting how these alterations will shape biogeochemical responses in rivers remains a major challenge. We measured [C]arbon and [N]itrogen concentrations continuously from two Arctic watersheds capturing a wide range of flow conditions to assess understudied event‐scale C and N concentration‐discharge (C‐Q) behavior and post‐event recovery of stoichiometric conditions. The watersheds represent low‐gradient, tundra landscapes typical of the eastern Brooks Range on the North Slope of Alaska and are part of the Arctic Long‐Term Ecological Research sites: the Kuparuk River and Oksrukuyik Creek. In both watersheds, we deployed high‐frequency optical sensors to measure dissolved organic carbon (DOC), nitrate (), and total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) for five consecutive thaw seasons (2017–2021). Our analyses revealed a lag in DOC: stoichiometric recovery after a hydrologic perturbation: while DOC was consistently elevated after high flows, diluted during rainfall events and consequently, recovery in post‐event concentration was delayed. Conversely, the co‐enrichment of TDN at high flows, even in watersheds with relatively high N‐demand, represents a potential “leak” of hydrologically available organic N to downstream ecosystems. Our use of high‐frequency, long‐term optical sensors provides an improved method to estimate carbon and nutrient budgets and stoichiometric recovery behavior across event and seasonal timescales, enabling new insights and conceptualizations of a changing Arctic, such as assessing ecosystem disturbance and recovery across multiple timescales.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    River networks regulate carbon and nutrient exchange between continents, atmosphere, and oceans. However, contributions of riverine processing are poorly constrained at continental scales. Scaling relationships of cumulative biogeochemical function with watershed size (allometric scaling) provide an approach for quantifying the contributions of fluvial networks in the Earth system. Here we show that allometric scaling of cumulative riverine function with watershed area ranges from linear to superlinear, with scaling exponents constrained by network shape, hydrological conditions, and biogeochemical process rates. Allometric scaling is superlinear for processes that are largely independent of substrate concentration (e.g., gross primary production) due to superlinear scaling of river network surface area with watershed area. Allometric scaling for typically substrate-limited processes (e.g., denitrification) is linear in river networks with high biogeochemical activity or low river discharge but becomes increasingly superlinear under lower biogeochemical activity or high discharge, conditions that are widely prevalent in river networks. The frequent occurrence of superlinear scaling indicates that biogeochemical activity in large rivers contributes disproportionately to the function of river networks in the Earth system.

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  3. Abstract. Repeated sampling of spatially distributed riverchemistry can be used to assess the location, scale, and persistence ofcarbon and nutrient contributions to watershed exports. Here, we provide acomprehensive set of water chemistry measurements and ecohydrologicalmetrics describing the biogeochemical conditions of permafrost-affectedArctic watersheds. These data were collected in watershed-wide synopticcampaigns in six stream networks across northern Alaska. Three watershedsare associated with the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site at ToolikField Station (TFS), which were sampled seasonally each June and August from2016 to 2018. Three watersheds were associated with the National ParkService (NPS) of Alaska and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and weresampled annually from 2015 to 2019. Extensive water chemistrycharacterization included carbon species, dissolved nutrients, and majorions. The objective of the sampling designs and data acquisition was tocharacterize terrestrial–aquatic linkages and processing of material instream networks. The data allow estimation of novel ecohydrological metricsthat describe the dominant location, scale, and overall persistence ofecosystem processes in continuous permafrost. These metrics are (1)subcatchment leverage, (2) variance collapse, and (3) spatial persistence.Raw data are available at the National Park Service Integrated Resource Management Applications portal (O'Donnell et al., 2021, and within the Environmental Data Initiative (Abbott, 2021, 
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  5. Abstract

    The Kuparuk River, located on Alaska's North Slope, is one of the most studied rivers in the Arctic. For nearly 40 seasons, physical, chemical, and biological parameters have been monitored continuously in a 5 km, 4th‐order reach of the river during the short summer season when there is flow in this river. Flow decreases as the tundra begins to refreeze in the late autumn and these streams normally remain frozen until the spring freshet. The monitoring program has supported a 34‐year phosphorus enrichment experiment conducted by the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Enrichment with phosphorus dramatically changed the structure and function of the primary producer community in the fertilized reach, with cascading effects in higher trophic levels. The datasets generated by this experiment have revealed significant increases in flow‐weighted mean concentrations of nitrate and significant decreases in flow‐weighted mean concentrations of dissolved organic N and P over time. In this paper, we present an overview of the nutrient concentration, discharge, macroinvertebrate, and Arctic grayling population datasets we have collected. The purposes of these datasets are to track changes resulting from the enrichment experiment, support ancillary research on responses of an Arctic stream to climate warming and permafrost thaw, and to provide input and validation data for models to predict future changes in Arctic streams.

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  6. Abstract

    Riverine fluxes of carbon and inorganic nutrients are increasing in virtually all large permafrost-affected rivers, indicating major shifts in Arctic landscapes. However, it is currently difficult to identify what is causing these changes in nutrient processing and flux because most long-term records of Arctic river chemistry are from small, headwater catchments draining <200 km2or from large rivers draining >100,000 km2. The interactions of nutrient sources and sinks across these scales are what ultimately control solute flux to the Arctic Ocean. In this context, we performed spatially-distributed sampling of 120 subcatchments nested within three Arctic watersheds spanning alpine, tundra, and glacial-lake landscapes in Alaska. We found that the dominant spatial scales controlling organic carbon and major nutrient concentrations was 3–30 km2, indicating a continuum of diffuse and discrete sourcing and processing dynamics. These patterns were consistent seasonally, suggesting that relatively fine-scale landscape patches drive solute generation in this region of the Arctic. These network-scale empirical frameworks could guide and benchmark future Earth system models seeking to represent lateral and longitudinal solute transport in rapidly changing Arctic landscapes.

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  7. Abstract

    The climate of the Arctic region is changing rapidly, with important implications for permafrost, vegetation communities, and transport of solutes by streams and rivers to the Arctic Ocean. While research on Arctic streams and rivers has accelerated in recent years, long‐term records are relatively rare compared to temperate and tropical regions. We began monitoring the upper Kuparuk River in 1983 as part of a long‐term, low‐level, whole‐season phosphorus enrichment of a 4–6 km experimental reach, which was subsequently incorporated into the Arctic Long‐Term Ecological Research (Arctic LTER) programme. The phosphorus enrichment phase of the Upper Kuparuk River Experiment (UKRE) ran continuously for 34 seasons, fundamentally altering the community structure and function of the Fertilized reach. The objectives of this paper are to (a) update observations of the environmental conditions in the Kuparuk River region as revealed by long‐term, catchment‐level monitoring, (b) compare long‐term trends in biogeochemical characteristics of phosphorus‐enriched and reference reaches of the Kuparuk River, and (c) report results from a new ‘ReFertilization’ experiment. During the UKRE, temperature and discharge did not change significantly, though precipitation increased slightly. However, the UKRE revealed unexpected community state changes attributable to phosphorus enrichment (e.g., appearance of colonizing bryophytes) and long‐term legacy effects of these state changes after cessation of the phosphorus enrichment. The UKRE also revealed important biogeochemical trends (e.g., increased nitrate flux and benthic C:N, decreased DOP flux). The decrease in DOP is particularly notable in that this may be a pan‐Arctic trend related to permafrost thaw and exposure to new sources of iron that reduce phosphorus mobility to streams and rivers. The trends revealed by the UKRE would have been difficult or impossible to identify without long‐term, catchment level research and may have important influences on connections between Arctic headwater catchments and downstream receiving waters, including the Arctic Ocean.

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  8. Abstract

    In Arctic catchments, bacterioplankton are dispersed through soils and streams, both of which freeze and thaw/flow in phase, seasonally. To characterize this dispersal and its potential impact on biogeochemistry, we collected bacterioplankton and measured stream physicochemistry during snowmelt and after vegetation senescence across multiple stream orders in alpine, tundra, and tundra‐dominated‐by‐lakes catchments. In all catchments, differences in community composition were associated with seasonal thaw, then attachment status (i.e. free floating or sediment associated), and then stream order. Bacterioplankton taxonomic diversity and richness were elevated in sediment‐associated fractions and in higher‐order reaches during snowmelt. FamiliesChthonomonadaceae,Pyrinomonadaceae, andXiphinematobacteraceaewere abundantly different across seasons, whileFlavobacteriaceaeandMicroscillaceaewere abundantly different between free‐floating and sediment‐associated fractions. Physicochemical data suggested there was high iron (Fe+) production (alpine catchment); Fe+production and chloride (Cl) removal (tundra catchment); and phosphorus (SRP) removal and ammonium (NH4+) production (lake catchment). In tundra landscapes, these ‘hot spots’ of Fe+production and Clremoval accompanied shifts in species richness, while SRP promoted the antecedent community. Our findings suggest that freshet increases bacterial dispersal from headwater catchments to receiving catchments, where bacterioplankton‐mineral relations stabilized communities in free‐flowing reaches, but bacterioplankton‐nutrient relations stabilized those punctuated by lakes.

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  9. Abstract

    Over the past 30 plus years, the Arctic has warmed at a rate of 0.6°C per decade. This has resulted in considerable permafrost thaw and alterations of hydrological and biogeochemical processes. Coincident with these changes, recent studies document increases in annual fluxes of inorganic nutrients in larger Arctic rivers. Changing nutrient fluxes in Arctic rivers have been largely attributed to warming‐induced active layer expansion and newly exposed subsurface source areas. However, the ability of Arctic headwater streams to modulate inorganic nutrient patterns manifested in larger rivers remains unresolved. We evaluated environmental conditions, stream ecosystem metabolism, and nutrient uptake in three headwater streams of the Alaskan Arctic to quantify patterns of retention of inorganic nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P). We observed elevated ambient nitrate‐N (NO3‐N) concentrations in late summer/early fall in two of three experimental stream reaches. We observed detectable increases in uptake as a result of nutrient addition in 88% of PO4‐P additions (n = 25), 38% of NH4‐N additions (n = 24), and 24% of NO3‐N additions (n = 25). We observed statistically significant relationships between NH4‐N uptake and ecosystem respiration, and PO4‐P uptake and gross primary productivity. Although these headwater streams demonstrate ability to control downstream transport of PO4‐P, we observed little evidence the same holds for dissolved inorganic N. Consequently, our results suggest that continued increases in terrestrial to aquatic N transfer in Arctic headwater landscapes are likely to be evident in larger Arctic rivers, in‐network lakes, and coastal environments.

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