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Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations and consumption rates are primary indicators of heterotrophic respiration and redox conditions in the hyporheic zone (HZ). Due to the complexity of hyporheic flow and interactions between hyporheic hydraulics and the biogeochemical processes, a detailed, mechanistic, and predictive understanding of the biogeochemical activity in the HZ has not yet been developed. Previous studies of microbial activity in the HZ have treated the metabolic DO consumption rate constant (KDO) as a temporally fixed and spatially homogeneous property that is determined primarily by the concentration of bioavailable carbon. These studies have generally treated bioactivity as temporally steady state, failing to capture the temporal dynamics of a changeable system. We demonstrate that hyporheic hydraulics controls rate constants in a hyporheic system that is relatively abundant in bioavailable carbon, such that KDO is a linear function of the local downwelling flux. We further demonstrate that, for triangular dunes, the downwelling velocities are lognormally distributed, as are the KDO values. By comparing measured and modeled DO profiles, we demonstrate that treating KDO as a function of the downwelling flux yields a significant improvement in the accuracy of predicted DO profiles. Additionally, our results demonstrate the temporal effect of carbon consumption on microbial respiration rates.

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This document was originally published in Water Resources Research by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. on behalf of the American Geophysical Union. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1002/2017WR021388