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Understanding nutrient biogeochemistry in agricultural catchments: the challenge of appropriate monitoring frequencies

Bieroza, M.Z.; Heathwaite, A.L.; Mullinger, N.J.; Keenan, P.O.. 2014 Understanding nutrient biogeochemistry in agricultural catchments: the challenge of appropriate monitoring frequencies. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 16 (7). 1676-1691. https://doi.org/10.1039/c4em00100a

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Abstract/Summary

We evaluate different frequencies of riverine nutrient concentration measurement to interpret diffuse pollution in agricultural catchments. We focus on three nutrient fractions, nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N), total reactive phosphorus (TRP) and total phosphorus (TP) observed using conventional remote laboratory-based, low-frequency sampling and automated, in situ high-frequency monitoring. We demonstrate the value of low-frequency routine nutrient monitoring in providing long-term data on changes in surface water and groundwater nutrient concentrations. By contrast, automated high-frequency nutrient observations provide insight into the fine temporal structure of nutrient dynamics in response to a full spectrum of flow dynamics. We found good agreement between concurrent in situ and laboratory-based determinations for nitrate-nitrogen (Pearson's R = 0.93, p < 0.01). For phosphorus fractions: TP (R = 0.84, p < 0.01) and TRP (R = 0.79, p < 0.01) the relationships were poorer due to the underestimation of P fractions observed in situ and storage-related changes of grab samples. A detailed comparison between concurrent nutrient data obtained by the hourly in situ automated monitoring and weekly-to-fortnightly grab sampling reveals a significant information loss at the extreme range of nutrient concentration for low-frequency sampling.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1039/c4em00100a
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 2050-7887
Date made live: 27 Apr 2017 11:19 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/516939

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