Table_2_Influence of Drying and Wildfire on Longitudinal Chemistry Patterns and Processes of Intermittent Streams.DOCX (281.97 kB)

Table_2_Influence of Drying and Wildfire on Longitudinal Chemistry Patterns and Processes of Intermittent Streams.DOCX

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posted on 23.12.2020, 05:36 by Ruth B. MacNeille, Kathleen A. Lohse, Sarah E. Godsey, Julia N. Perdrial, Colden V. Baxter

Stream drying and wildfire are projected to increase with climate change in the western United States, and both are likely to impact stream chemistry patterns and processes. To investigate drying and wildfire effects on stream chemistry (carbon, nutrients, anions, cations, and isotopes), we examined seasonal drying in two intermittent streams in southwestern Idaho, one stream that was unburned and one that burned 8 months prior to our study period. During the seasonal recession following snowmelt, we hypothesized that spatiotemporal patterns of stream chemistry would change due to increased evaporation, groundwater dominance, and autochthonous carbon production. With increased nutrients and reduced canopy cover, we expected greater shifts in the burned stream. To capture spatial chemistry patterns, we sampled surface water for a suite of analytes along the length of each stream with a high spatial scope (50-m sampling along ~2,500 m). To capture temporal variation, we sampled each stream in April (higher flow), May, and June (lower flow) in 2016. Seasonal patterns and processes influencing stream chemistry were generally similar in both streams, but some were amplified in the burned stream. Mean dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations increased with drying by 22% in the unburned and by 300% in the burned stream. In contrast, mean total nitrogen (TN) concentrations decreased in both streams, with a 16% TN decrease in the unburned stream and a 500% TN decrease (mostly nitrate) in the burned stream. Contrary to expectations, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations varied more in space than in time. In addition, we found the streams did not become more evaporative relative to the Local Meteoric Water Line (LMWL) and we found weak evidence for evapoconcentration with drying. However, consistent with our expectations, strontium-DIC ratios indicated stream water shifted toward groundwater-dominance, especially in the burned stream. Fluorescence and absorbance measurements showed considerable spatial variation in DOC sourcing each month in both streams, and mean values suggested a temporal shift from allochthonous toward autochthonous carbon sources in the burned stream. Our findings suggest that the effects of fire may magnify some chemistry patterns but not the biophysical controls that we tested with stream drying.