Towards an improved understanding of the nitrate dynamics in lowland, permeable river-systems: Applications of INCA-N
Wade, A. J., Butterfield, D. and Whitehead, P. (2006) Towards an improved understanding of the nitrate dynamics in lowland, permeable river-systems: Applications of INCA-N. Journal of Hydrology, 330 (1-2). pp. 185-203. ISSN 0022-1694
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.04.023
The Integrated Catchment Model of Nitrogen (INCA-N) was applied to the Lambourn and Pang river-systems to integrate current process-knowledge and available-data to test two hypotheses and thereby determine the key factors and processes controlling the movement of nitrate at the catchment-scale in lowland, permeable river-systems: (i) that the in-stream nitrate concentrations were controlled by two end-members only: groundwater and soil-water, and (ii) that the groundwater was the key store of nitrate in these river-systems. Neither hypothesis was proved true or false. Due to equifinality in the model structure and parameters at least two alternative models provided viable explanations for the observed in-stream nitrate concentrations. One model demonstrated that the seasonal-pattern in the stream-water nitrate concentrations was controlled mainly by the mixing of ground- and soil-water inputs. An alternative model demonstrated that in-stream processes were important. It is hoped further measurements of nitrate concentrations made in the catchment soil- and ground-water and in-stream may constrain the model and help determine the correct structure, though other recent studies suggest that these data may serve only to highlight the heterogeneity of the system. Thus when making model-based assessments and forecasts it is recommend that all possible models are used, and the range of forecasts compared. In this study both models suggest that cereal production contributed approximately 50% the simulated in-stream nitrate toad in the two catchments, and the point-source contribution to the in-stream load was minimal. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.