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Models simulate nitrate dynamics in Garonne, Southwest France
Date:1/5/2009

MADISON, WI, DECEMBER 29, 2008 The over-enrichment of fresh, transitional, and marine waters with nitrogen (N) can lead to problems associated with eutrophication, such as a change in species composition of aquatic plants and nuisance algal blooms. In this context, dynamic models of flow and water quality are required to aid the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and to understand the impacts of environmental change.

Scientists from CNRS in Toulouse (France) and the University of Reading (U.K.) described the spatially and temporally complex flow and N dynamics of a major European watershed, the Garonne (62,700 km2) located in southwest France, using multivariate analysis before applying the linked rainfall-runoff HBV and the Integrated Catchment Model of Nitrogen (INCA-N) models to simulate daily flow and N dynamics.

This is the first application of the linked HBV and INCA-N models to a major European river system commensurate with the largest basins to be managed under the Water Framework Directive. Results from the study were published in the November-December 2008 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

The spatial and temporal dynamics in the stream water NO3N concentrations in the Garonne watershed were first described and related to variations in climate, land management, and effluent point-sources using multivariate statistics (PCA, RDA).

Building on this, INCA-N simulations were in accordance with expected flow and seasonal N patterns. In the low and mid reaches of the Garonne, the NO3-N concentrations exhibited a clear seasonal pattern with a peak concentration coinciding with fertilizer applications; that is, results highlighted that 75% of the NO3-N river load in the lowlands came from arable farming. In the upper reaches, climate controls on flow were the most important in determining the NO3-N concentrations which exhibited dilution patterns during high spring flows.

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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@agronomy.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

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