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Science of The Total Environment
Vol. 523, 20
15, Pages: 64–73

Analyzing the contribution of climate change to long-term variations in sediment nitrogen sources for reservoirs/lakes

Xinghui Xia, Qiong Wu, Baotong Zhu, Pujun Zhao, Shangwei Zhang, Lingyan Yang

School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation/Key Laboratory of Water and Sediment Sciences of Ministry of Education, Beijing 100875, China.


We applied a mixing model based on stable isotopic δ13C, δ15N, and C:N ratios to estimate the contributions of multiple sources to sediment nitrogen. We also developed a conceptual model describing and analyzing the impacts of climate change on nitrogen enrichment. These two models were conducted in Miyun Reservoir to analyze the contribution of climate change to the variations in sediment nitrogen sources based on two 210Pb and 137Cs dated sediment cores. The results showed that during the past 50 years, average contributions of soil and fertilizer, submerged macrophytes, N2-fixing phytoplankton, and non-N2-fixing phytoplankton were 40.7%, 40.3%, 11.8%, and 7.2%, respectively. In addition, total nitrogen (TN) contents in sediment showed significant increasing trends from 1960 to 2010, and sediment nitrogen of both submerged macrophytes and phytoplankton sources exhibited significant increasing trends during the past 50 years. In contrast, soil and fertilizer sources showed a significant decreasing trend from 1990 to 2010. According to the changing trend of N2-fixing phytoplankton, changes of temperature and sunshine duration accounted for at least 43% of the trend in the sediment nitrogen enrichment over the past 50 years. Regression analysis of the climatic factors on nitrogen sources showed that the contributions of precipitation, temperature, and sunshine duration to the variations in sediment nitrogen sources ranged from 18.5% to 60.3%. The study demonstrates that the mixing model provides a robust method for calculating the contribution of multiple nitrogen sources in sediment, and this study also suggests that N2-fixing phytoplankton could be regarded as an important response factor for assessing the impacts of climate change on nitrogen enrichment.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Climate change; Nitrogen; Mixing model; d13C and d15N; N2-fixing phytoplankton; Sediment.

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