Tracing Nitrogen Sources and Cycle in Freshwater Through Nitrogen and Oxygen Isotopic Research

  • Zi-Xiang Chen
  • Xue-Bin Yin
  • Guang Liu
  • Gui-Jian Liu


The technique of using nitrogen and oxygen isotopic compositions to identify nitrogen sources and assess the nitrogen cycle process has been extensively applied in freshwater research in the last few decades. Nitrate pollution in freshwater has caused concern worldwide: if nitrate sources could be identified, this major form of pollution could be combated. Thus, this technique provides much-needed scientific help with the remediation of freshwater. As the method of determining nitrogen and oxygen isotopic ratios has become more precise, many deficiencies in earlier methods of determination have been overcome. Moreover, each kind of nitrate source and some isotopic fractionation processes have also been well studied; all these factors play an important role in research into the use of isotopic tools in tracing nitrate sources. The joint use dual isotopes with water chemistry are indeed providing very detailed and useful information relating to the identification of nitrate sources and the tracking of nitrate transformation in freshwater systems. Recently, some other stable isotopic tools, which are not affected by biogeochemical processes, have been incorporated into dual-isotope research. These tools are better able to respond to the complexities of environments containing multiple potential nitrate sources coexisting in freshwater system, as well as the mixing of point and nonpoint sources in freshwater systems. At the end of this chapter, two actual researches on surface and groundwater were cited as examples for the better comprehension about the dual-isotope work.


Isotopic Fractionation Oxygen Isotopic Composition Freshwater System Ammonia Volatilization Synthetic Fertilizer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zi-Xiang Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xue-Bin Yin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guang Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gui-Jian Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth and Space ScienceUniversity of Science and Technology of China (USTC)HefeiChina
  2. 2.Advanced Lab for Ecological Safety and Human HealthSuzhou Institute of USTCSuzhouChina

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