Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (EIT)
200 University Ave. W
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567
The journal Environmental Research Letters (ERL) has presented Kim Van Meter, a postdoctoral fellow in Waterloo’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, with the Best Early-Career Article of 2016 for her paper entitled, “The nitrogen legacy: emerging evidence of nitrogen accumulation in anthropogenic landscapes.”
The article, which appeared in the March 2016 issue “Focus on Nitrogen Management Challenges From Global to Local Scales,” presents the first direct evidence of a large-scale nitrogen legacy across the United States’ Mississippi River Basin.
Van Meter and her co-author Professor Nandita Basu were driven by a question that continues to plague policy makers and watershed managers: why are there often long lag times between improved nutrient management practices on farms and any measurable improvements in stream water quality? To answer this question, they turned to soil data obtained from across the Mississippi River Basin over a period of more than four decades. Their study results suggest that excess nitrogen, applied as fertilizer, has been systematically accumulating in the soil just below the plow layer, creating a pollution legacy that will continue to contaminate groundwater with nitrate for decades.
The paper was one of several successful articles authored by Van Meter during her graduate student career with Professor Basu at Waterloo. These include the April 2014 feature article in Environmental Science and Technology on the use of ancient rainwater harvesting systems in India to address water shortage and a March 2015 article on the impact of size distributions and spatial organization on wetland restoration in Ecological Applications.
A postdoctoral fellow since graduating in September 2016, Van Meter plans to continue her research into the long-term effects of nutrient pollution. She is currently working with Professor Basu and CERC Philippe Van Cappellen as part of the Legacies of Agriculture Pollutants (LEAP) project, a three-year collaborative effort funded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the European Union.