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High-Resolution in Situ Measurement of Nitrate in Runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet

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journal contribution
posted on 27.09.2017, 00:00 authored by Alexander D. Beaton, Jemma L. Wadham, Jon Hawkings, Elizabeth A. Bagshaw, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Matthew C. Mowlem, Martyn Tranter
We report the first in situ high-resolution nitrate time series from two proglacial meltwater rivers draining the Greenland Ice Sheet, using a recently developed submersible analyzer based on lab-on-chip (LOC) technology. The low sample volume (320 μL) required by the LOC analyzer meant that low concentration (few micromolar to submicromolar), highly turbid subglacial meltwater could be filtered and colorimetrically analyzed in situ. Nitrate concentrations in rivers draining Leverett Glacier in southwest Greenland and Kiattuut Sermiat in southern Greenland exhibited a clear diurnal signal and a gradual decline at the commencement of the melt season, displaying trends that would not be discernible using traditional daily manual sampling. Nitrate concentrations varied by 4.4 μM (±0.2 μM) over a 10 day period at Kiattuut Sermiat and 3.0 μM (±0.2 μM) over a 14 day period at Leverett Glacier. Marked changes in nitrate concentrations were observed when discharge began to increase. High-resolution in situ measurements such as these have the potential to significantly advance the understanding of nutrient cycling in remote systems, where the dynamics of nutrient release are complex but are important for downstream biogeochemical cycles.

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