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Divergent controls on stream greenhouse gas concentrations across a land use gradient

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Created: Nov 12, 2020 at 1:27 a.m.
Last updated: Nov 12, 2020 at 1:49 a.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.2679ce1a6d514b30a54459893557dfe7
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Sharing Status: Published
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Inland waters can be significant sources of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) to the atmosphere. However, considerable uncertainty remains in regional and global estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from freshwater ecosystems, particularly streams. Controls on GHG production in streams, such as water chemistry and sediment characteristics, are also poorly understood. The main objective of this study was to quantify spatial and temporal variability in GHG concentrations in 20 streams across a landscape with considerable variation in land use and land cover in New England, USA. Stream water was consistently supersaturated in CO2, CH4, and N2O, suggesting that these small streams are sources of GHGs to the atmosphere in this landscape. Results show that concentrations of dissolved CO2, CH4 and N2O differed in their spatial and temporal patterns and in their relationship to stream chemistry. Both bivariate and multivariate analyses revealed a unique combination of predictor variables for each gas, suggesting variation in the landscape attributes and in-stream processes that control GHG concentrations. Although hydrologic conditions did not explain variation among sites, temporal patterns in GHG concentrations align with seasonal phenologies in flow and temperature. We developed a conceptual model based on these data that describes the spatial variability in GHG production from streams and that can elucidate the dominant controls on each gas. Developing an understanding of the factors controlling GHG dynamics in streams can help assess and predict how fluvial ecosystems will respond to changes in climate and land use and can be used to incorporate emissions from streams into regional and global GHG emission inventories.

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
New Hampshire
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:



Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
NSF StreamPULSE 1442444
USGS NH Water Resources Research Center
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (McIntire-Stennis) Project 1019522

How to Cite

Herreid, A. M., A. S. Wymore, R. K. Varner, J. D. Potter, W. H. McDowell (2020). Divergent controls on stream greenhouse gas concentrations across a land use gradient, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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