The Chester River as a Source of Nitrous Oxide to the Atmosphere

Senior Capstone Experience by Catherine Gaudlip ’19

Submitted to the Department of Environmental Science and Studies

Advised by Dr. Rebecca Fox

Description: “After introducing the definition and effect of a trace greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, the paper suggests the Chester River is a source of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere through data collection and analyses over a period of 4 months.”

Abstract: “Nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is emitted as a byproduct of nitrification and denitrification, which occurs by microbes in sediments and the water column. The Chester River is a reservoir for collecting nutrients from nearby Eastern Shore agriculture that are necessary to stimulate nitrous oxide production. River samples were taken at two depths in longitudinal transects in the river for spatial analysis. For temporal analysis, river samples were collected approximately weekly between August and December from two docks in Chestertown. Abiotic parameters were measured with a YSI probe. The samples were analyzed on Gas Chromatograph for nitrous oxide concentrations. The Chester River exhibited an increase in nitrous oxide content from summer to winter. Spatially, nitrous oxide concentrations were lower further downstream than upstream. In addition to gas solubility, microbial processes largely contributed to the production of nitrous oxide in the Chester River, which can be seen from such large background saturation percentages. The Chester River is thus considered a source of nitrous oxide to the atmosphere.”

Read Catherine’s SCE below:

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