, Volume 112, Issue 1–3, pp 637–659 | Cite as

Retention of dissolved silica within the fluvial system of the conterminous USA

  • Ronny Lauerwald
  • Jens Hartmann
  • Nils Moosdorf
  • Hans H. Dürr
  • Stephan Kempe


Dissolved silica (DSi) is an important nutrient in aquatic ecosystems. Increased DSi retention within the fluvial system due to damming and eutrophication has led to a decrease in DSi exports to coastal waters, which can have severe consequences for coastal areas where ecosystem functioning depends on fluvial DSi inputs. The analysis of fluvial DSi fluxes and DSi retention at regional to global scales is thus an important research topic. This study explores the possibility to empirically assess regional DSi retention based on a spatially explicit estimation of DSi mobilization and fluvial DSi fluxes calculated from hydrochemical monitoring data. The uncertainty of DSi retention rates (rDSi) estimated for particular rivers is high. Nevertheless, for the St. Lawrence River (rDSi = 91 %) and the Mississippi River (rDSi = 13 %) the estimated DSi retention rates are reasonable and are supported by literature values. The variety of sources of the uncertainty in the DSi retention assessment is discussed.


Dissolved silica Rivers Retention Land–ocean matter transfer Biogeochemistry Silicon cycle 



Areal proportions of artificial areas (= urban + industrial areas)


Areal proportion of agricultural land


Areal proportion of broadleaved forests


Areal proportion of coniferous forests


Areal proportion of herbaceous vegetation (= grasslands)


Areal proportion of shrublands


Biogenic, amorphous silica


Coefficient of variance


Dissolved silica


Total fluvial DSi flux


Specific fluvial DSi flux


FDSi calculated from hydrochemical monitoring data


Spatially explicit estimates of DSi mobilization


Mean annual runoff


DSi retention rate


Mean air temperature



This work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation) through the project HA4472/6-1 and the cluster of excellence ‘KlimaCampus’ (EXC177). H. H. Dürr was funded by Utrecht University (High Potential Project G-NUX). The USGS is thanked for providing river chemistry data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronny Lauerwald
    • 1
  • Jens Hartmann
    • 1
  • Nils Moosdorf
    • 1
  • Hans H. Dürr
    • 2
    • 4
  • Stephan Kempe
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine ChemistryKlimaCampus, University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Physical GeographyUtrecht UniversityCS UtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of Applied GeosciencesTU DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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