Contrasting patterns of nutrient dynamics during different storm events in a semi-arid catchment of northern China

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Nutrient discharge during storm events is a critical pathway for nutrient export in semi-arid catchments. We investigated nutrient dynamics during three summer storms characterized by different rainfall magnitude in 2012 in a semi-arid catchment of northern China. The results showed that, in response to storm events, nutrient dynamics displayed big variation in temporal trends of nutrient concentration and in nutrient concentration-flow discharge relationships. Nutrient concentrations had broader fluctuations during an extreme storm than during lesser storms, whereas the concentration ranges of the a moderate storm were no broader than those of a smaller one. The different concentration fluctuations were caused by storm magnitude and intensity coupled with the antecedent rainfall amount and cumulative nutrients. Correlation coefficients between nutrient concentrations and flow discharge varied from positive to negative for the three different events. There were no consistent hysteresis effects for the three different events, and no hysteresis effects were observed for any of the variables during the moderate storm (E2). Our findings provide useful information for better understanding nutrient loss mechanisms during storm events in semi-arid areas of a monsoon climate region.

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