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!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences