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Title (Primary) Should we worry about surficial dynamics when assessing nutrient cycling in the groundwater?
Author Khurana, S.; Heße, F.; Hildebrandt, A.; Thullner, M.
Journal Frontiers in Water
Year 2022
Department CHS; UMB; iDiv
Volume 4
Page From art. 780297
Language englisch
Topic T7 Bioeconomy
T5 Future Landscapes
Supplements https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frwa.2022.780297/full#supplementary-material
Keywords Reactive transport modelling; spatio-temporal heterogeneity; uncertainty; geomicrobial activity; Nutrient export
Abstract The fluxes of water and solutes in the subsurface compartment of the Critical Zone are temporally dynamic and it is unclear how this impacts microbial mediated and nutrient cycling in the spatially heterogeneous subsurface. To investigate this, we undertook numerical modelling, simulating the transport in a wide range of spatially heterogeneous domains, and the biogeochemical transformation of organic carbon and nitrogen compounds using a complex microbial community with four (4) distinct functional groups, in water saturated subsurface compartments. We performed a comprehensive uncertainty analysis accounting for varying residence times and spatial heterogeneity. While the aggregated removal of chemical species in the domains over the entire simulation period was approximately the same as that in steady state conditions, the sub-scale temporal variation of microbial biomass and chemical discharge from a domain depended strongly on the interplay of spatial heterogeneity and temporal dynamics of the forcing. We showed that the travel time and the Damköhler number (Da) can be used to predict the temporally varying chemical discharge from a spatially heterogeneous domain. In homogeneous domains, chemical discharge in temporally dynamic conditions could be double of that in the steady state conditions while microbial biomass varied up to 75% of that in steady state conditions. In heterogeneous domains, the interquartile range of uncertainty in chemical discharge in reaction dominated systems (log10Da>0) was double of that in steady state conditions. However, high heterogeneous domains resulted in outliers where chemical discharge could be as high as 10-20 times of that in steady state conditions in high flow periods. And in transport dominated systems (log10Da<0), the chemical discharge could be half of that in steady state conditions in unusually low flow conditions. In conclusion, ignoring spatio-temporal heterogeneities in a numerical modelling approach may exacerbate inaccurate estimation of nutrient export and microbial biomass. The results are relevant to long-term field monitoring studies, and for homogeneous soil column-scale experiments investigating the role of temporal dynamics on microbial redox dynamics.
Persistent UFZ Identifier https://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=20939&ufzPublicationIdentifier=25825
Khurana, S., Heße, F., Hildebrandt, A., Thullner, M. (2022):
Should we worry about surficial dynamics when assessing nutrient cycling in the groundwater?
Front. Water 4 , art. 780297