Diel biogeochemical processes in terrestrial waters
Many biogeochemical processes in rivers and lakes respond to the solar photocycle and produce persistent patterns of measureable phenomena that exhibit a day–night, or 24-h, cycle. Despite a large body of recent literature, the mechanisms responsible for these diel fluctuations are widely debated, with a growing consensus that combinations of physical, chemical, and biological processes are involved. These processes include streamflow variation, photosynthesis and respiration, plant assimilation, and reactions involving photochemistry, adsorption and desorption, and mineral precipitation and dissolution. Diel changes in streamflow and water properties such as temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen concentration have been widely recognized, and recently, diel studies have focused more widely by considering other constituents such as dissolved and particulate trace metals, metalloids, rare earth elements, mercury, organic matter, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and nutrients. The details of many diel processes are being studied using stable isotopes, which also can exhibit diel cycles in response to microbial metabolism, photosynthesis and respiration, or changes in phase, speciation, or redox state. In addition, secondary effects that diel cycles might have, for example, on biota or in the hyporheic zone are beginning to be considered.
This special issue is composed primarily of papers presented at the topical session “Diurnal Biogeochemical Processes in Rivers, Lakes, and Shallow Groundwater” held at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in October 2009 in Portland, Oregon. This session was organized because many of the growing number of diel studies have addressed just a small part of the full range of diel cycling phenomena found in rivers and lakes. This limited focus is understandable because (1) fundamental aspects of many diel processes are poorly understood and require detailed study, (2) the interests and expertise of individual scientists typically do not encompass the wide diversity and range of processes that produce diel cycles, and (3) the logistics of making field measurements for 24-h periods has limited recognition and understanding of these important cycles. Thus, the topical session brought together hydrologists, biologists, geochemists, and ecologists to discuss field studies, laboratory experiments, theoretical modeling, and measurement techniques related to diel cycling. Hopefully with the cross-disciplinary synergy developed at the session as well as by this special issue, a more comprehensive understanding of the interrelationships between the diel processes will be developed. Needless to say, understanding diel processes is critical for regulatory agencies and the greater scientific community. And perhaps more importantly, expanded knowledge of biogeochemical cycling may lead to better predictions of how aquatic ecosystems might react to changing conditions of contaminant loading, eutrophication, climate change, drought, industrialization, development, and other variables.
|Diel biogeochemical processes in terrestrial waters
|Montana Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
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