Quantitative identification of riverine nitrogen from point, direct runoff and base flow sources

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

We present a methodological example for quantifying the contributions of riverine total nitrogen (TN) from point, direct runoff and base flow sources by combining a recursive digital filter technique and statistical methods. First, we separated daily riverine flow into direct runoff and base flow using a recursive digital filter technique; then, a statistical model was established using daily simultaneous data for TN load, direct runoff rate, base flow rate, and temperature; and finally, the TN loading from direct runoff and base flow sources could be inversely estimated. As a case study, this approach was adopted to identify the TN source contributions in Changle River, eastern China. Results showed that, during 2005–2009, the total annual TN input to the river was 1,700.4 ± 250.2 ton, and the contributions of point, direct runoff and base flow sources were 17.8 ± 2.8%, 45.0 ± 3.6%, and 37.2 ± 3.9%, respectively. The innovation of the approach is that the nitrogen from direct runoff and base flow sources could be separately quantified. The approach is simple but detailed enough to take the major factors into account, providing an effective and reliable method for riverine nitrogen loading estimation and source apportionment.

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