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Title: A Dive Into the Chesapeake Bay: An Investigation of Parameters Shaping Nitrous Oxide Distribution
Authors: Nathan, Levy
Advisors: Ward, Bess
Department: Geosciences
Class Year: 2021
Abstract: Estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay act as hot spots for anthropogenic nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes to the atmosphere, and their role in the distribution of N2O is critical to understand since N2O is a potent greenhouse gas. Over two cruises to the Chesapeake Bay, one in October 2019 and one in August 2020, water samples were collected at two stations to investigate the seasonal and spatial parameters shaping N2O distribution in the Bay. One station, at the mouth of the Bay, resembles a marine environment with low nutrient conditions, while the second station is further up the estuarine system of the Bay and has high freshwater and nutrient input from rivers. The distribution of N2O was investigated along with the concentrations of nitrogen species, oxygen, salinity, and the distribution and activity of microbes which can consume and produce N2O. Overall, N2O distribution in the Bay is strongly determined by the concentration of oxygen, which is likely due to oxygen’s regulation on microbial consumption and production of N2O. The data suggest that microbial consumption of N2O is favored in anoxic conditions, such as at the estuarine station in August, while microbial production of N2O is favored in oxic conditions, such as at the mouth of the Bay across both seasons; this indicates that oxygen concentration and microbial activity help shape the seasonal and spatial distribution of N2O. More parameters, such as pH and carbon input, should be further investigated to identify other factors impacting the distribution of N2O in the Bay.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Geosciences, 1929-2023

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