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The role of climate on inter-annual variation in stream nitrate fluxes and concentrations

Abstract : In recent decades, temporal variations in nitrate fluxes and concentrations in temperate rivers have resulted from the interaction of anthropogenic and climatic factors. The effect of climatic drivers remains unclear, while the relative importance of the drivers seems to be highly site dependent. This paper focuses on 2-6 year variations called meso-scale variations, and analyses the climatic drivers of these variations in a study site characterized by high N inputs from intensive animal farming systems and shallow aquifers with impervious bedrock in a temperate climate. Three approaches are developed: 1) an analysis of long-term records of nitrate fluxes and nitrate concentrations in 30 coastal rivers of Western France, which were well-marked by meso-scale cycles in the fluxes and concentration with a slight hysteresis; 2) a test of the climatic control using a lumped two-box model, which demonstrates that hydrological assumptions are sufficient to explain these meso-scale cycles; and 3) a model of nitrate fluxes and concentrations in two contrasted catchments subjected to recent mitigation measures, which analyses nitrate fluxes and concentrations in relation to N stored in groundwater. In coastal rivers, hydrological drivers (i.e., effective rainfall), and particularly the dynamics of the water table and rather stable nitrate concentration, explain the meso-scale cyclic patterns. In the headwater catchment, agricultural and hydrological drivers can interact according to their settings. The requirements to better distinguish the effect of climate and human changes in integrated water management are addressed: long-term monitoring, coupling the analysis and the modelling of large sets of catchments incorporating different sizes, land uses and environmental factors. Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 2:36:34 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-00729657, version 1


Chantal Gascuel, Pierre Aurousseau, Patrick Durand, Laurent Ruiz, Jérôme Molenat. The role of climate on inter-annual variation in stream nitrate fluxes and concentrations. AGU Fall Meeting, Dec 2010, San Francisco (US), United States. ⟨hal-00729657⟩



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