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Impacts of typhoon-induced heavy rainfalls and resultant freshwater runoff on the partitioning of organic carbon oxidation and nutrient dynamics in the intertidal sediments of the Han River estuary, Yellow Sea

Mok, Jin-Sook, Kim, Sung-Han, Kim, Jonguk, Cho, Hyeyoun, An, Sung-Uk, Choi, Ayeon, Kim, Bomina, Yoon, Cheolho, Thamdrup, Bo, Hyun, Jung-Ho
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.691 pp. 858-867
ammonium, coastal ecosystems, denitrification, estuaries, freshwater, hydrogen sulfide, iron, littoral zone, nitrates, organic carbon, oxidation, rain, rivers, runoff, sediments, silicon, sulfates, typhoons, Asia, Yellow Sea
Occurrence of typhoons accompanied by heavy precipitation has increased for the past 40 years in northeast Asia. To elucidate the impact of three consecutive typhoon-induced heavy rainfall events and resultant freshwater runoff on the partitioning of organic carbon (Cₒᵣg) oxidation and nutrient dynamics, we investigated the geochemical constituents, the rate of anaerobic Cₒᵣg oxidation, sulfate reduction (SR), iron reduction (FeR) and P speciation in the intertidal mud flat of the Han River estuary, Yellow Sea. Cₒᵣg oxidation by SR and FeR and their metabolic products (∑CO₂, NH₄⁺, H₂S, Fe²⁺) decreased significantly (P < 0.05) during and immediately after the heavy rainfall. Additional mesocosm experiments demonstrated that potential N₂ production rates increased up to 2.4 times with increased nitrate concentrations during freshwater runoff. The results suggest that denitrification becomes a significant Cₒᵣg oxidation pathway substituting for SR during high-nitrate freshwater runoff, which may remove substantial portion of the N introduced into the estuary. P speciation analysis further revealed that the concentrations of iron bound P decreased by 2.2 fold during the heavy rainfall compared to that measured before the rainfall. The results suggest that an excess supply of riverine Si keeps P from binding to Fe, thereby stimulating P release. Taking projections of enhanced rainfall events in the future into account, our results suggest that the intensified storm events and resultant riverine runoff induces a shift of Cₒᵣg oxidation pathways in the sediments, which ultimately alters C-N-P-S-Fe dynamics and may deepen N-limiting conditions in coastal ecosystems of the Yellow Sea.