A new approach to generalizing riparian water and air quality function across regions

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There is growing interest in generalizing the impact of hydrogeomorphology and weather variables on riparian functions. Here, we used RZ-TRADEOFF to estimate nitrogen, phosphorus, water table (WT) depth, and greenhouse gas (GHG: N 2 O, CO 2 , CH 4 ) functions for 80 riparian zones typical of the North American Midwest, Northeast (including Southern Ontario, Canada), and Mid-Atlantic. Sensitivity to weather perturbations was calculated for temperature and precipitation-dependent functions (CO 2 , phosphate concentration, and water table), and multivariate statistical analysis on model outputs was conducted to determine trade-offs between riparian functions. Mean model estimates were 93.10 cm for WT depth, 8.45 mg N L −1 for field edge nitrate concentration, 51.57% for nitrate removal, 0.45 mg PO 43− L −1 for field edge phosphate concentration, 1.5% for subsurface phosphate removal, 91.24% for total overland phosphorus removal, 0.51 mg N m −2 day −1 for N 2 O flux, 5.5 g C m −2 day −1 for CO 2 fluxes, and − 0.41 mg C m −2 day −1 and 621.51 mg C m −2 day −1 for CH 4 fluxes in non-peat sites and peat sites, respectively. Sites in colder climates were most sensitive to weather perturbations for CO 2 , sites with deep water tables estimates had the highest sensitivity for WT, and sites in warm climates and/or with deep confining layers had the lowest sensitivity for phosphate concentration. Slope, confining layer depth, and temperature were the primary characteristics influencing similarities and trade-offs between sites. This research contributes to understanding how to optimize riparian restoration and protection in watersheds based on both water (nitrogen, phosphorus) and air quality (GHG) goals.

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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment