According to a study published in “Nature” by researchers at LSU and Yale University, farming has significantly changed the hydrology and chemistry of the Mississippi River, injecting more carbon dioxide into the river and raising river discharge during the past 50 years.
LSU Professor R. Eugene Turner and graduate student Whitney Broussard, along with their colleagues at Yale, tracked changes in the discharge of water and the concentration of bicarbonate, which forms when carbon dioxide in soil water dissolves rock minerals. Bicarbonate in rivers plays an important, long-term role in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Oceans then absorb this carbon dioxide, but become more acidic in the process, making it more difficult for organisms to form hard shells – a necessary function in coral reefs, for example.
Researchers concluded that liming and farming practices, such as changes in tile drainage, tillage practices and crop type, are most likely responsible for the majority of the increase in water and carbon in the Mississippi River, North America’s largest river.
“It’s like the discovery of a new large river being piped out of the corn belt,” said Pete Raymond, lead author of the study and associate professor of ecosystem ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
The research team analyzed 100-year-old data on the Mississippi River warehoused at two New Orleans water treatment plants, and combined it with data on precipitation and water export.
“The water quality information we used has been sitting idle for over 50 years in an attic in New Orleans, waiting to be discovered,” said Broussard, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in coastal ecology at LSU. “I felt like a treasure-hunter when we opened those boxes in that 100-plus degree attic to find those data logs. You never know where your research will take you if you’re open to suggestion and serendipity.” Turner, distinguished professor of coastal ecology, added, “and [where it will take you] if you have the benefits of long-term collaborations of trusting and high-quality academic research groups.”
The research team used the data to demonstrate the effects of this excess water on the carbon content of the river, and argue that the additional water in the river is altering the chemistry of the Gulf of Mexico as by increasing the amount of nutrients and pollution the river transports to the Gulf.
“We’re learning more and more about the far-reaching effects of American agriculture on rivers and lakes. This also means that the agricultural community has an incredible opportunity to influence the natural environment in a positive way, more than any other contemporary enterprise,” said Broussard. “If we want to clean the water, we have to steward the land with right agriculture.”
R. Eugene Turner | EurekAlert!
Alkaline soil, sensible sensor
03.08.2017 | American Society of Agronomy
New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences