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Issue 6, 2018
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The cycle of nitrogen in river systems: sources, transformation, and flux

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Nitrogen is a requisite and highly demanded element for living organisms on Earth. However, increasing human activities have greatly altered the global nitrogen cycle, especially in rivers and streams, resulting in eutrophication, formation of hypoxic zones, and increased production of N2O, a powerful greenhouse gas. This review focuses on three aspects of the nitrogen cycle in streams and rivers. We firstly introduce the distributions and concentrations of nitrogen compounds in streams and rivers as well as the techniques for tracing the sources of nitrogen pollution. Secondly, the overall picture of nitrogen transformations in rivers and streams conducted by organisms is described, especially focusing on the roles of suspended particle–water surfaces in overlying water, sediment–water interfaces, and riparian zones in the nitrogen cycle of streams and rivers. The coupling of nitrogen and other element (C, S, and Fe) cycles in streams and rivers is also briefly covered. Finally, we analyze the nitrogen budget of river systems as well as nitrogen loss as N2O and N2 through the fluvial network and give a summary of the effects and consequences of human activities and climate change on the riverine nitrogen cycle. In addition, future directions for the research on the nitrogen cycle in river systems are outlined.

Graphical abstract: The cycle of nitrogen in river systems: sources, transformation, and flux

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Publication details

The article was received on 31 Jan 2018, accepted on 16 May 2018 and first published on 19 May 2018

Article type: Critical Review
DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00042E
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018,20, 863-891

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    The cycle of nitrogen in river systems: sources, transformation, and flux

    X. Xia, S. Zhang, S. Li, L. Zhang, G. Wang, L. Zhang, J. Wang and Z. Li, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2018, 20, 863
    DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00042E

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