Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016MT303B

Student Fellowship: Impacts of glacial processes on nitrogen cycling in the Beartooth Mountains, Montana

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $1,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $440

Principal Investigators: Jordan Allen

Abstract: Nitrogen is one of the main limiting factors on primary production, and is particularly important in low-nutrient systems, as is the case in most alpine environments. Waters draining from glacial alpine catchments have inorganic nitrogen (N) concentrations, specifically nitrate, which are an order of magnitude higher than adjacent non-glaciated systems (Saros et al. 2010). Increased nitrate input to headwater lakes from the glaciated catchments increases phytoplankton and diatom populations and the elevated N concentrations persist downstream, impacting multiple downstream lakes (Slemmons and Saros 2015). However, the specific source of the elevated nitrate concentrations remains unknown. The goals of this project are to determine a) the magnitude of N concentration variation in adjacent glaciated and non-glaciated catchments in the Beartooth Mountains and b) the source(s) for this nitrate and the processes that control its supply.