A reservoir of nitrate beneath desert soils

By: , and 



A large reservoir of bioavailable nitrogen (up to ∼104 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare, as nitrate) has been previously overlooked in studies of global nitrogen distribution. The reservoir has been accumulating in subsoil zones of arid regions throughout the Holocene. Consideration of the subsoil reservoir raises estimates of vadose-zone nitrogen inventories by 14 to 71% for warm deserts and arid shrublands worldwide and by 3 to 16% globally. Subsoil nitrate accumulation indicates long-term leaching from desert soils, impelling further evaluation of nutrient dynamics in xeric ecosystems. Evidence that subsoil accumulations are readily mobilized raises concern about groundwater contamination after land-use or climate change.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A reservoir of nitrate beneath desert soils
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1086435
Volume 302
Issue 5647
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contributing office(s) Nevada Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 4 p.
First page 1021
Last page 1024
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