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Temporal variation of nitrate and phosphate transport in headwater catchments: the hydrological controls and landuse alteration

DOI: 10.5194/bgd-9-13211-2012

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Abstract:

Oceania Rivers are hotspots of high DIN (dissolved inorganic nitrogen) and DIP (dissolved inorganic phosphorus) transport. However, the effects of hydrologic controls and land use alternation on the temporal variations of DIN and DIP are rarely documented. In this study, we monitored the nitrate and phosphate concentrations from three headwater catchments with different cultivation gradients at a 3-day interval. This sampling scheme was supplemented with a 3-h interval monitoring during typhoon periods. The results showed that the DIN and DIP yields in the pristine, moderately cultivated, and intensively cultivated watersheds were 7.52/0.31, 31.17/0.30, and 40.96/0.52 kg ha 1 yr 1, respectively. The high DIN yields are comparable to the intensively and extensively disturbed large rivers around the world. These N yields may be due to a high level of nitrogen deposition, rainfall-runoff, and fertilizer application. The importance of event sampling was indicated by the contribution of the three typhoons to the annual DIN and DIP fluxes, which were 30% and 60%, respectively. Both DIN and DIP fluxes significantly increased as the cultivation gradient increased. The DIN and DIP ratio varied from 54 to 230 depending on the decrease of the cultivation gradient. This value is higher than the global mean of ~18. Thus, we speculate that nitrogen saturation occurs in the headwater catchments of Oceania Rivers. The results obtained provide fundamental clues of DIN and DIP yield of Oceania Rivers, which are helpful in understanding the impact of human disturbance on headwater watersheds.

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