, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 49–77

Challenges to incorporating spatially and temporally explicit phenomena (hotspots and hot moments) in denitrification models


    • Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
  • Klaus Butterbach-Bahl
    • Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU)Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
  • Robinson W. Fulweiler
    • Department of Earth SciencesBoston University
  • Arthur J. Gold
    • Department of Natural Resources ScienceUniversity of Rhode Island
  • Jennifer L. Morse
    • Department of BiologyDuke University
  • Emilie K. Stander
    • Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural ResourcesRutgers University
  • Christina Tague
    • Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of California Santa Barbara
  • Christina Tonitto
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Department of HorticultureCornell University
  • Philippe Vidon
    • Department of Earth SciencesIndiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

DOI: 10.1007/s10533-008-9277-5

Cite this article as:
Groffman, P.M., Butterbach-Bahl, K., Fulweiler, R.W. et al. Biogeochemistry (2009) 93: 49. doi:10.1007/s10533-008-9277-5


Denitrification, the anaerobic reduction of nitrogen oxides to nitrogenous gases, is an extremely challenging process to measure and model. Much of this challenge arises from the fact that small areas (hotspots) and brief periods (hot moments) frequently account for a high percentage of the denitrification activity that occurs in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In this paper, we describe the prospects for incorporating hotspot and hot moment phenomena into denitrification models in terrestrial soils, the interface between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and in aquatic ecosystems. Our analysis suggests that while our data needs are strongest for hot moments, the greatest modeling challenges are for hotspots. Given the increasing availability of high temporal frequency climate data, models are promising tools for evaluating the importance of hot moments such as freeze-thaw cycles and drying/rewetting events. Spatial hotspots are less tractable due to our inability to get high resolution spatial approximations of denitrification drivers such as carbon substrate. Investigators need to consider the types of hotspots and hot moments that might be occurring at small, medium, and large spatial scales in the particular ecosystem type they are working in before starting a study or developing a new model. New experimental design and heterogeneity quantification tools can then be applied from the outset and will result in better quantification and more robust and widely applicable denitrification models.


Denitrification Nitrogen Riparian Sediment Soil Stream

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009