Data from: Predicting nitrate retention at the groundwater- surface water interface in sandplain streams
Stelzer, Robert S; Scott, J. Thad (2019), Data from: Predicting nitrate retention at the groundwater- surface water interface in sandplain streams, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n536ts2
Groundwater-surface water ecotones present opportunities for nitrate retention because changes in organic carbon availability, redox potential and nitrate demand often occur at these locations. Although there have been many measurements of nitrate retention and denitrification at the groundwater-surface water interface few investigators have quantitatively predicted where nitrogen transformation occurs in this zone. Our main objective was to describe and predict spatial variation in nitrate retention and removal in shallow groundwater among and within streams in the central sand plains of Wisconsin. We predicted that nitrate transformation rates would be positively related to nitrate and particulate organic carbon availability, a negative nonlinear function of dissolved oxygen availability and would peak at intermediate rates of groundwater discharge. Five sites on 4 streams were chosen that spanned an order of magnitude in groundwater nitrate concentration. Nitrate retention and N2 production were quantified by determining how nitrate and N2 fluxes changed along nominal 60 cm groundwater flow paths. Nitrogen transformation was widespread but highly variable within the study sites. Partial least squares regression models explained a much larger amount of variation in nitrate retention and N2 production at the local scale than at the regional scale. Dissolved oxygen (DO) availability and ground water discharge were the most consistent predictors of nitrate retention at both scales. We conclude that nitrate retention at the groundwater-surface water interface can be predicted but that more research is necessary to determine if nitrate transformation at this ecotone can be modeled at broader scales.