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The Upper Mississippi River, engineered for river navigation in the 1930s, includes a series of low-head dams and navigation pools receiving elevated sediment and nutrient loads from the mostly agricultural basin. Using high-resolution, spatially resolved water quality sensor measurements along 1385 river kilometers, we show that primary productivity and organic matter accumulation affect river carbon dioxide and methane emissions to the atmosphere. Phytoplankton drive CO2to near or below atmospheric equilibrium during the growing season, while anaerobic carbon oxidation supports a large proportion of the CO2 and CH4 production. Reductions of suspended sediment load, absent of dramatic reductions in nutrients, will...