Spatial variability in material fluxes within large river basins may arise from point source inputs, variable contributions from sub-basins and longitudinal variation in material transformation and retention. By measuring instantaneous fluxes throughout the Ohio River basin, we were able to draw inferences about the importance of these factors in determining the overall export of C, N and P from the basin. Our study spanned the lower 645 km of the Ohio River and included all tributaries that contributed at least 1% of the volume of the Ohio River at its confluence with the Mississippi. The intensively cultivated northern sub-basin (Wabash River) contributed a large fraction of N and P entering the Ohio River. In the southern sub-basins (Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers), impoundments and less intense cultivation appear to diminish and delay material delivery particularly with respect to N. The southern rivers account for a proportionately larger fraction of the water entering the Mississippi River during low discharge conditions and this fraction has increased during the past 50 years. The upper portion of the study reach was found to be a net source of CHLa and DOC and a net sink for inorganic N suggesting that this portion of the river provided a generally favorable environment for autotrophic production. Point source loadings of NH4 were significant inputs to the upper sub-reach but a relatively small component of the overall budget for dissolved inorganic N.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||16|
|State||Published - Nov 1 2005|
- Mass balance
- Ohio River
- Point sources