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Influence of lag effect, soil release, and climate change on watershed anthropogenic nitrogen inputs and riverine export dynamics.

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This study demonstrates the importance of the nitrogen-leaching lag effect, soil nitrogen release, and climate change on anthropogenic N inputs (NANI) and riverine total nitrogen (TN) export dynamics using a 30-yr record for the Yongan River watershed in eastern China. Cross-correlation analysis indicated a 7-yr, 5-yr, and 4-yr lag time in riverine TN export in response to changes in NANI, temperature, and drained agricultural land area, respectively. Enhanced by warmer temperature and improved agricultural drainage, the upper 20 cm of agricultural soils released 270 kg N ha(-1) between 1980 and 2009. Climate change also increased the fractional export of NANI to river. An empirical model (R(2) = 0.96) for annual riverine TN flux incorporating these influencing factors estimated 35%, 41%, and 24% of riverine TN flux originated from the soil N pool, NANI, and background N sources, respectively. The model forecasted an increase of 45%, 25%, and 6% and a decrease of 13% in riverine TN flux from 2010 to 2030 under continued development, climate change, status-quo, and tackling scenarios, respectively. The lag effect, soil N release, and climate change delay riverine TN export reductions with respect to decreases in NANI and should be considered in developing and evaluating N management measures.

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