Climatic control of nitrate loss from forested watersheds in the northeast United States

Myron J. Mitchell, Charles T. Driscoll, Jeffrey S. Kahl, Gene E. Likens, Peter S. Murdoch, Linda H. Pardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


Increased losses of nitrate from watersheds may accelerate the depletion of nutrient cations and affect the acidification and trophic status of surface waters. Patterns of nitrate concentrations and losses were evaluated in four forested watersheds (East Bear Brook Watershed, Lead Mountain, ME; Watershed 6, Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, White Mountains, NH; Arbutus Watershed, Huntington Forest, Adirondack Mountains, NY; Biscuit Brook, Catskill Mountains, NY) located across the northeastern United States. A synchronous pattern was observed in nitrate concentrations of drainage waters from these four sites from 1983 through 1993. Most notably, high concentrations and high drainage water losses followed an anomalous cold period (mean daily temperature -11.4 to -16 °C in December 1989) for all four sites. After high nitrate losses during the snowmelt of 1990, nitrate concentrations and fluxes decreased at all sites. These results suggest that climatic variation can have a major effect on nitrogen flux and cycling and may influence temporal patterns of nitrate loss in a region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2609-2612
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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