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Research Seminar: Anne Smiley
November 15, 2021 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
The UNC at Chapel Hill’s Earth, Marine, and Environmental Sciences Department presents the Research Seminar of graduate student Anne Smiley. This event will be held on Monday, November 15th, at 1:25 pm. This seminar will be held both in person and streamed live online. The physical location will be Room G201 on the ground floor of Murray Hall on UNC at Chapel Hill campus, and streamed to the coast in Room 222 at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, NC. To view the event online join via Zoom Meeting ID 967 0129 9854.
Seminar Title: Natural systems provide flood resilience through nitrogen regulation in an urban estuarine environment
Abstract: Major storms and floods are expected to increase in frequency, consequently increasing coastal communities’ exposure to hazards. Flood waters can transport harmful pollutants, pathogens, and nutrients into a system, which can degrade water quality. Excess reactive nitrogen can negatively affect coastal ecosystems, economies, and public health by fueling nuisance algal blooms, hypoxia, and fish kills. Natural habitats can buffer against water quality degradation by converting reactive nitrogen to dinitrogen gas in a process called denitrification. That dinitrogen gas is then lost to the atmosphere, permanently removing it from the system. However, there is a gap in knowledge about nitrogen regulation capacities within a developed system. Our group aimed to quantify the nitrogen cycling processes by natural landscapes (e.g., marshes and swamp forests) and urban landscapes (e.g., lawns and stormwater ponds) in Eastern North Carolina (ENC). We also sought out to understand how distributions of these landscapes have changed over time and what the implications are for nitrogen regulation capacity. Our results suggest that emergent and forested wetlands are extremely valuable for nitrogen removal during fair-weather and storm (nutrient enriched) conditions. Lawns exhibited lower denitrification rates, but since they are so abundant, lawns likely played a substantial role in removing nitrogen during Hurricane Florence. Distributions of natural habitats and developed landscape have changed over the last two decades, but those changes are not homogenous across ENC. Our study sites show that areas that have experienced more development within Hurricane Florence’s floodplain show the greatest decreases in nitrogen removal capacity. Distributions of habitats within floodplains have important implications for the water quality regulation services that are provided to a coastal community and can impact peoples’ experiences during and after major storms.