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Effect on nitrate concentration in stream water of agricultural practices in small catchments in Brittany: I. Annual nitrogen budgets
L. Ruiz,S. Abiven,P. Durand,C. Martin
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2002,
Abstract: The hydrological and biogeochemical monitoring of catchments has become a common approach for studying the effect of the evolution of agricultural practices on water resources. In numerous studies, the catchment is used as a a mega-lysimetera ? to calculate annual input-output budgets. However, the literature reflects two opposite interpretations of the trends of nitrate concentration in streamwater. For some authors, essentially in applied studies, the mean residence time of leached nitrate in shallow groundwater systems is much less than one year and river loads reflect annual land use while for others, nitrate is essentially transport limited, independent of soil nitrate supply in the short term and annual variations reflect changes in climatic conditions. This study tests the effect of agricultural land-use changes on inter-annual nitrate trends on stream water of six small adjacent catchments from 0.10 to 0.57 km2 in area, on granite bedrock, at Kerbernez, in Western Brittany (France). Nitrate concentrations and loads in streamwater have been monitored for nine years (1992 to 2000) at the outlet of the catchments. An extensive survey of agricultural practices from 1993 to 1999 allowed assessment of the nitrogen available for leaching through nitrogen budgets. For such small catchments, year-to-year variations of nitrate leaching can be very important, even when considering the a memory effecta of soil, while nitrate concentrations in streamwater appear relatively steady. No correlation was found between the calculated mean nitrate concentration of drainage water and the mean annual concentration in streams, which can even exhibit opposite trends in inter-annual variations. The climatic conditions do not affect the mean concentration in streamwater significantly. These results suggest that groundwater plays an important role in the control of streamwater nitrate concentration. Keywords: nitrate, diffuse pollution, agricultural catchment, nitrogen budget, leaching, Kerbernez catchments
Solute transport dynamics in small, shallow groundwater-dominated agricultural catchments: insights from a high-frequency, multisolute 10 yr-long monitoring study
A. H. Aubert, C. Gascuel-Odoux, G. Gruau, N. Akkal, M. Faucheux, Y. Fauvel, C. Grimaldi, Y. Hamon, A. Jaffrézic, M. Lecoz-Boutnik, J. Molénat, P. Petitjean, L. Ruiz,P. Merot
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2013,
Abstract: High-frequency, long-term and multisolute measurements are required to assess the impact of human pressures on water quality due to (i) the high temporal and spatial variability of climate and human activity and (ii) the fact that chemical solutes combine short- and long-term dynamics. Such data series are scarce. This study, based on an original and unpublished time series from the Kervidy-Naizin headwater catchment (Brittany, France), aims to determine solute transfer processes and dynamics that characterise this strongly human-impacted catchment. The Kervidy-Naizin catchment is a temperate, intensive agricultural catchment, hydrologically controlled by shallow groundwater. Over 10 yr, five solutes (nitrate, sulphate, chloride, and dissolved organic and inorganic carbon) were monitored daily at the catchment outlet and roughly every four months in the shallow groundwater. The concentrations of all five solutes showed seasonal variations but the patterns of the variations differed from one solute to another. Nitrate and chloride exhibit rather smooth variations. In contrast, sulphate as well as organic and inorganic carbon is dominated by flood flushes. The observed nitrate and chloride patterns are typical of an intensive agricultural catchment hydrologically controlled by shallow groundwater. Nitrate and chloride originating mainly from organic fertilisers accumulated over several years in the shallow groundwater. They are seasonally exported when upland groundwater connects with the stream during the wet season. Conversely, sulphate as well as organic and inorganic carbon patterns are not specific to agricultural catchments. These solutes do not come from fertilisers and do not accumulate in soil or shallow groundwater; instead, they are biogeochemically produced in the catchment. The results allowed development of a generic classification system based on the specific temporal patterns and source locations of each solute. It also considers the stocking period and the dominant process that limits transport to the stream, i.e. the connectivity of the stocking compartment. This mechanistic classification can be applied to any chemical solute to help assess its origin, storage or production location and transfer mechanism in similar catchments.
Winter climate affects long-term trends in stream water nitrate in acid-sensitive catchments in southern Norway
H. A. de Wit, A. Hindar,L. Hole
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2008,
Abstract: Controls of stream water NO3 in mountainous and forested catchments are not thoroughly understood. Long-term trends in stream water NO3 are positive, neutral and negative, often apparently independent of trends in N deposition. Here, time series of NO3 in four small acid-sensitive catchments in southern Norway were analysed in order to identify likely drivers of long-term changes in NO3. In two sites, stream water NO3 export declined ca 50% over a period of 25 years while in the other sites NO3 export increased with roughly 20%. Discharge and N deposition alone were poor predictors of these trends. The most distinct trends in NO3 were found in winter and spring. Empirical models explained between 45% and 61% of the variation in weekly concentrations of NO3, and described both upward and downward seasonal trends tolerably well. Key explaining variables were snow depth, discharge, temperature and N deposition. All catchments showed reductions in snow depth and increases in winter discharge. In two inland catchments, located in moderate N deposition areas, these climatic changes appeared to drive the distinct decreases in winter and spring concentrations and fluxes of NO3. In a coast-near mountainous catchment in a low N deposition area, these climatic changes appeared to have the opposite effect, i.e. lead to increases in especially winter NO3. This suggests that the effect of a reduced snow pack may result in both decreased and increased catchment N leaching depending on interactions with N deposition, soil temperature regime and winter discharge.
Winter climate affects long-term trends in stream water nitrate in acid-sensitive catchments in southern Norway
H. A. de Wit,A. Hindar,L. Hole
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions , 2007,
Abstract: Controls of stream water NO3 in mountainous and forested catchments are not thoroughly understood. Long-term trends in stream water NO3 are positive, neutral and negative, often apparently independent of trends in N deposition. Here, time series of NO3 in four small acid-sensitive catchments in southern Norway were analysed in order to identify likely drivers of long-term changes in NO3. In two sites, stream water NO3 export declined ca 50% over a period of 25 years while in the other sites NO3 export increased with roughly 20%. Discharge and N deposition alone were poor predictors of these trends. The most distinct trends in NO3 were found in winter and spring. Empirical models explained between 45% and 61% of the variation in weekly concentrations of NO3, and described both upward and downward seasonal trends tolerably well. Key explaining variables were snow depth, discharge, temperature and N deposition. All catchments showed reductions in snow depth and increases in winter discharge. In two inland catchments, located in moderate N deposition areas, these climatic changes appeared to drive the distinct decreases in winter and spring concentrations and fluxes of NO3. In a coast-near mountainous catchment in a low N deposition area, these climatic changes appeared to have the opposite effect, i.e. lead to increases in especially winter NO3. This suggests that the effect of a reduced snow pack may result in both decreased and increased catchment N leaching depending on interactions with N deposition, soil temperature regime and winter discharge.
Untangling hydrological pathways and nitrate sources by chemical appraisal in a stream network of a reservoir catchment
M. A. Yevenes ,C. M. Mannaerts
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2012,
Abstract: The knowledge of water source contributions to streamflow is important for understanding chemical contamination origins and the status of biogeochemical cycling in stream networks of catchments. In this study, we evaluated whether a limited number of spatially distributed geochemical tracer data sampled during different hydrological seasons were sufficient to quantify water flow pathways and nitrate sources in a catchment. Six geochemical water constituents (δ2H, δ18O, Cl , SO2 4, Na+, NO 3 and K+) of precipitation, stream water, alluvial sediment pore water and shallow groundwater of a 352 km2 agricultural catchment in the Alentejo region of Portugal were analysed. Exploratory data analysis and end-member mixing analysis (EMMA) were performed to estimate the water source mixing proportions. Residual analysis of principal components was used to identify the appropriate geochemical tracers and the number of end-members (water sources and flow paths), and their proportional contributions to streamflow were quantified. Spearman's rank correlation analysis was further used to identify nitrate origins in the streamflow. Results showed that, when using data from both wet and dry seasons, streamflow chemistry was strongly influenced by shallow groundwater. When only wet season data were modelled, streamflow chemistry was controlled and generated by three end-members: shallow groundwater, alluvial sediment pore water and precipitation. Isotope signatures of stream water were located mostly below the local meteoric water line (LMWL) and plotted along a local evaporation line (LEL), reflecting the permanence in the streamflow of shallow groundwater subjected to prior evaporation. Interpretation of isotope signatures during summer showed an isotopic enrichment in both streamflow and shallow groundwater. Measured and historical stream nitrate concentrations appeared to be strongly related to shallow groundwater. In addition, two hydrochemical data outliers for almost every solute from two sample points were identified by the analysis and could be related to local waste water outfalls. The results of this study have improved our understanding of water source contributions to streamflow in the catchment, and also yielded indications of nitrate consumption related to biogeochemical processes in the streamflow network. Moreover, we could conclude that the relatively limited geochemical spatial sample database used in this study was an adequate input for the end-member mixing analysis and diagnostic tools to quantify water sources and nitrate origins in the streamflow of the catchment.
The importance of riparian zones on stream carbon and nitrogen export in a temperate, agricultural dominated landscape  [PDF]
T. Wohlfart,J.-F. Exbrayat,K. Schelde,B. Christen
Biogeosciences Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/bgd-9-7465-2012
Abstract: The surrounding landscape of a stream has crucial impacts on the aquatic environment. This study pictures the hydro-biogeochemical situation of the Tyrebaekken creek catchment in central Jutland, Denmark. The intensively managed agricultural landscape is dominated by rotational croplands. One northern and one southern stream run through the catchment before converging to form a second order brook. The small catchments mainly consist of sandy soil types besides organic soils along the riparian zone of the streams. The aim of the study was to characterise the relative influence of soil type and land use on stream water quality. Nine snapshot sampling campaigns were undertaken during the growing season of 2009. On each sampling day, 20 points along the stream were sampled as well as eight drain outlets and two groundwater wells. Total dissolved nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium nitrogen and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were measured and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) was calculated for each grabbed sample. Electro-conductivity, pH and flow velocity were measured during sampling. Statistical analyses showed significant differences between the northern, southern and converged stream parts, especially for nitrate concentrations with average values of 9.6 mg N l 1, 1.4 mg N l 1 and 3.0 mg N l 1, respectively. Furthermore, throughout the sampling period DON concentrations increased from 0.1 mg N l 1 to 2.8 mg N l 1 and from 0.1 mg N l 1 to 0.8 mg N l 1in the northern and southern streams, respectively. This corresponded to a contribution of up to 81% to total dissolved nitrogen. Multiple-linear regression analyses performed between chemical data and landscape charateristics showed a significant negative influence of organic soils on instream N concentrations and corresponding losses in spite of their overall minor share of the agricultural land (12.9%). On the other hand, organic soil frequency was positively correlated to the corresponding dissolved organic carbon concentrations. Croplands also had a significant influence but with weaker correlations. For our case study we conclude that soil types and corresponding biogeochemical properties have a major influence on stream water chemistry. Meanwhile, the contribution of dissolved organic nitrogen to the total nitrogen budget was substantial in this agricultural dominated landscape.
Source identification of nitrate by means of isotopic tracers in the Baltic Sea catchments
M. Voss, B. Deutsch, R. Elmgren, C. Humborg, P. Kuuppo, M. Pastuszak, C. Rolff,U. Schulte
Biogeosciences (BG) & Discussions (BGD) , 2006,
Abstract: Nitrate input to a river is largely controlled by land use in its catchment. We compared the information carried by the isotopic signatures of nitrate in 12 Baltic rivers, in relation to the vegetation cover, land use, and fertilization of agricultural land of their catchments. We found isotope values in nitrate ranging from 2 to 14‰ for δ15N and 8 to 25‰ for δ18O. The annual variability of riverine nitrate isotope signatures is presented in detail for one Nordic, the Kemijoki, and two southern rivers, the Vistula and Oder. Nordic rivers with relatively pristine vegetation in their catchments show not only low δ15N values and high δ18O-NO3 but also lower annual variability than rivers draining densely populated land. Seasonal signals were found in all the rivers. We used load weighted nitrate isotope data and data from the three major N sources (farmland/sewage, atmospheric deposition and from runoff of pristine soils) to theoretically estimate the shares of nitrate from these sources. The results of an isotope mixing model (IMM-1) agree reasonably well with the same estimates for agricultural land derived from a Global Land Cover (GLC) data base, with a deviation varying from 16% to +26%. The comparison with an emission model (EM) reveals relatively good agreements for intensively used catchments ( 18 to +18% deviation). Rather unsatisfactory agreement was found between the IMM-1 and GLC calculations for pristine catchments ( 36 to +50% deviation). Advantages and limitations of the tested model are discussed.
Soft Water Level Sensors for Characterizing the Hydrological Behaviour of Agricultural Catchments  [PDF]
Armand Crabit,Fran?ois Colin,Jean Stéphane Bailly,Hervé Ayroles,Fran?ois Garnier
Sensors , 2011, DOI: 10.3390/s110504656
Abstract: An innovative soft water level sensor is proposed to characterize the hydrological behaviour of agricultural catchments by measuring rainfall and stream flows. This sensor works as a capacitor coupled with a capacitance to frequency converter and measures water level at an adjustable time step acquisition. It was designed to be handy, minimally invasive and optimized in terms of energy consumption and low-cost fabrication so as to multiply its use on several catchments under natural conditions. It was used as a stage recorder to measure water level dynamics in a channel during a runoff event and as a rain gauge to measure rainfall amount and intensity. Based on the Manning equation, a method allowed estimation of water discharge with a given uncertainty and hence runoff volume at an event or annual scale. The sensor was tested under controlled conditions in the laboratory and under real conditions in the field. Comparisons of the sensor to reference devices (tipping bucket rain gauge, hydrostatic pressure transmitter limnimeter, Venturi channels…) showed accurate results: rainfall intensities and dynamic responses were accurately reproduced and discharges were estimated with an uncertainty usually acceptable in hydrology. Hence, it was used to monitor eleven small agricultural catchments located in the Mediterranean region. Both catchment reactivity and water budget have been calculated. Dynamic response of the catchments has been studied at the event scale through the rising time determination and at the annual scale by calculating the frequency of occurrence of runoff events. It provided significant insight into catchment hydrological behaviour which could be useful for agricultural management perspectives involving pollutant transport, flooding event and global water balance.
Water quality improvements from afforestation in an agricultural catchment in Denmark illustrated with the INCA model
A. Bastrup-Birk,P. Gundersen
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2004,
Abstract: Intensive agricultural land use across Europe has altered nitrogen (N) budget of catchments substantially, causing widespread N pollution of freshwater. Although the N cycle in forests has changed due to increased N deposition, most forest soil waters in Europe have low nitrate concentrations. The protective function of forests on water quality has led to increasing interest in the planting of new forests on arable land as a measure to protect valuable or sensitive freshwater resources. The paper illustrates the effects of afforestation on water and N cycling using the Integrated Nitrogen Catchment (INCA) model. The model was calibrated on the Horndrup catchment in the eastern part of Jutland, Denmark, which is dominated by agricultural land use but also covered by 18% of forest land. The dynamics of nitrate concentrations in the stream water were simulated successfully by INCA over a three-year period. The simulation of the dynamics of nitrate concentrations in the soil water is closely linked to the simulation of the hydrological dynamics and especially to the rainfall. The best fit was achieved for both arable and forest land during the wettest year of the study period. The model was then used to simulate the effect of afforestation of a catchment dominated by agriculture on N fluxes with seepage and runoff. Scenarios of whole catchment conversion to forest were run, based on observations of evapotranspiration and N deposition from other Danish sites. The simulated conversion to mature forest reduced runoff by 30–45% and reduced the nitrate concentrations in the soil water by 50–70%. The simulated effect of afforestation on N leaching was an almost direct reflection of the change in the N input: substantial changes in the plant demand and soil N dynamics over the afforestation period were not simulated. To simulate the N dynamics over longer time-scales, appropriate for the study of afforestation, it is suggested that the INCA model be run with transient scenarios and linked to more detailed plant and soil models. Keywords: afforestation, arable land, forest hydrology, INCA, modelling, nitrogen, nitrate leaching
Long-term changes in precipitation and stream water chemistry in small forest and moorland catchments at Beddgelert Forest, north Wales
B. Reynolds,P. A. Stevens,S. A. Brittain,D. A. Norris
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) & Discussions (HESSD) , 2004,
Abstract: Changes in the chemistry of bulk precipitation and stream water between 1982 and 2000 are described for small moorland and forest catchments located within Beddgelert Forest in north Wales. Two forest catchments were partially clearfelled in 1984 (D2; 68% and D4; 28%) whilst a third (D3) remained as an unfelled control until autumn / winter 1998/99 when partial felling took place in the headwaters. Over the monitoring period, the annual mean pH of bulk precipitation increased from 4.6 to 5.1 whilst the annual mean non-seasalt sulphate concentration decreased from 0.53 mg S l-1 in 1985 to 0.24 mg S l-1 in 2000. Since 1985, the annual wet deposition flux of non-seasalt sulphur decreased by 50% to 8.4 kg S ha-1 yr–1 in 2000. Annual mean inorganic nitrogen concentrations and annual wet deposition fluxes have remained relatively unchanged since 1982. The decrease in atmospheric sulphur deposition is reflected by decreased annual mean concentrations of non-seasalt sulphur, acidity, aluminium and calcium in all four streams irrespective of clearfelling activities. Annual variations in nitrate-N and potassium concentrations in the forest streams, largely determined by pulses of leaching following forest clearance, had no effect on stream acidity. In common with UK upland catchments, annual mean concentrations of dissolved organic carbon have increased from about 1 mg C l-1 in 1985 to between 1.5 and 2 mg C l-1 in 2000, although there is considerable year to year variability. Two boreholes drilled adjacent to catchments D3 and D4 have confirmed the presence of alkaline, base rich groundwater at Beddgelert. Although the boreholes are only 150 m apart, there are large differences in chemistry suggesting that different groundwater reservoirs have been intercepted providing further evidence of the complexity and heterogeneity of groundwater systems in upland catchments. Keywords: acid deposition, acidification, recovery, forestry, clearfelling, trends, Beddgelert, streams, rainfall
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