Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5194/hess-25-6437-2021
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Bending of the concentration discharge relationship can inform about in-stream nitrate removal
Author Dehaspe, J.; Sarrazin, F.; Kumar, R. ORCID logo ; Fleckenstein, J.H.; Musolff, A.
Source Titel Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Year 2021
Department CHS; HDG
Volume 25
Issue 12
Page From 6437
Page To 6463
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Data and Software links
Abstract Nitrate (NO3-) excess in rivers harms aquatic ecosystems and can induce detrimental algae growths in coastal areas. Riverine NO3- uptake is a crucial element of the catchment-scale nitrogen balance and can be measured at small spatiotemporal scales, while at the scale of entire river networks, uptake measurements are rarely available. Concurrent, low-frequency NO3- concentration and stream-flow (Q) observations at a basin outlet, however, are commonly monitored and can be analyzed in terms of concentration discharge (C-Q) relationships. Previous studies suggest that steeper positive log (C)-log (Q)slopes under low flow conditions (than under high flows) are linked to biological NO3- uptake, creating a bent rather than linear log (C)-log (Q) relationship. Here we explore if networkscale NO3- uptake creates bent log (C )-log (Q) relationships and when in turn uptake can be quantified from observed low-frequency C-Q data. To this end we apply a parsimonious mass-balance-based river network uptake model in 13 mesoscale German catchments (21-1450 km(2)) and explore the linkages between log (C)-log (Q) bending and different model parameter combinations. The modeling results show that uptake and transport in the river network can create bent log (C)-log (Q) relationships at the basin outlet from log- log linear C-Q relationships describing the NO3- land-tostream transfer. We find that within the chosen parameter range the bending is mainly shaped by geomorphological parameters that control the channel reactive surface area rather than by the biological uptake velocity itself. Further we show that in this exploratory modeling environment, bending is positively correlated to percentage of NO3- load removed in the network (L-r.perc) but that network-wide flow velocities should be taken into account when interpreting log (C)-log (Q) bending. Classification trees, finally, can successfully predict classes of low (similar to 4 %), intermediate (similar to 32 %) and high (similar to 68 %) L-r.perc using information on water velocity and log (C)-log (Q) bending. These results can help to identify stream networks that efficiently attenuate NO3- loads based on low-frequency NO3- and Q observations and generally show the importance of the channel geomorphology on the emerging log (C)-log (Q) bending at network scales.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Dehaspe, J., Sarrazin, F., Kumar, R., Fleckenstein, J.H., Musolff, A. (2021):
Bending of the concentration discharge relationship can inform about in-stream nitrate removal
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 25 (12), 6437 - 6463 10.5194/hess-25-6437-2021