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USGS Paper Chosen as AGU Journal Highlight by the Editors of Geophysical Research Letters

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The editors of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) journal Geophysical Research Letters have selected a paper by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Jon Warrick and his colleague at Stanford University, Derek Fong, as an AGU Journal Highlight.

River plumes Left: River plumes along the Santa Ynez Mountains of southern California after rainfall from a 1998 El Niño storm. Conspicuous plume at lower right is flowing from Gaviota Creek. In their recent paper, Warrick and Fong show that many such small river plumes are important pathways of continental material entering the ocean, and their cumulative effect on coastal areas likely exceeds that of the largest river systems. View westward toward Point Conception. Photo by Mark Defeo. [larger version]

The full reference for the paper is Warrick, J.A., and Fong, D.A., 2004, Dispersal scaling from the world's rivers: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31, no. 4, L04301, doi: 10.1029/2003GL019114, 2004.

The summary printed below (in shaded box) was published in Geophysical Research Letters and distributed to interested news media in advance of the paper's publication on March 10, 2004. (The summary is available online on the American Geophysical Union Journal Highlights Web page.)

Small rivers' impact on coastal ocean biogeochemistry
A new investigation that evaluates the biogeochemical impact from the flow of small rivers into the coastal ocean shows that the cumulative effect of many river plumes likely exceeds that of the largest river systems. Warrick and Fong show that flooding rates among smaller rivers, particularly tributaries from mountainous regions, cumulatively provide greater amounts of mass and momentum into the ocean than huge, well-studied rivers like the Mississippi and Amazon. The authors also provide information that can be used to mathematically model the impact from such small rivers and estimate their contribution into the world's oceans. They note, however, that sediment and biological material ejected from rivers varies widely, which can affect the coastal geochemical properties like nutrient dispersion and resulting algal blooms. The researchers suggest that the study can be used to track particulate materials from the hydrologic processes into the oceans.

Title: Dispersal scaling from the world's rivers
Authors: Jonathan A. Warrick, Coastal and Marine Geology, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA; Derek A. Fong, Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper: 10.1029/2003GL019114, 2004

Related Web Sites
American Geophysical Union Journal Highlights
American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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