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A modification of the Regional Nutrient Management model (ReNuMa) to identify long-term changes in riverine nitrogen sources

Hu, Minpeng, Liu, Yanmei, Wang, Jiahui, Dahlgren, Randy A., Chen, Dingjiang
Journal of hydrology 2018 v.561 pp. 31-42
agricultural soils, chlorides, decision making, groundwater, models, nitrates, nitrogen, nutrient management, pollution control, pollution load, prediction, runoff, seasonal variation, water quality, watersheds, China
Source apportionment is critical for guiding development of efficient watershed nitrogen (N) pollution control measures. The ReNuMa (Regional Nutrient Management) model, a semi-empirical, semi-process-oriented model with modest data requirements, has been widely used for riverine N source apportionment. However, the ReNuMa model contains limitations for addressing long-term N dynamics by ignoring temporal changes in atmospheric N deposition rates and N-leaching lag effects. This work modified the ReNuMa model by revising the source code to allow yearly changes in atmospheric N deposition and incorporation of N-leaching lag effects into N transport processes. The appropriate N-leaching lag time was determined from cross-correlation analysis between annual watershed individual N source inputs and riverine N export. Accuracy of the modified ReNuMa model was demonstrated through analysis of a 31-year water quality record (1980–2010) from the Yongan watershed in eastern China. The revisions considerably improved the accuracy (Nash-Sutcliff coefficient increased by ∼0.2) of the modified ReNuMa model for predicting riverine N loads. The modified model explicitly identified annual and seasonal changes in contributions of various N sources (i.e., point vs. nonpoint source, surface runoff vs. groundwater) to riverine N loads as well as the fate of watershed anthropogenic N inputs. Model results were consistent with previously modeled or observed lag time length as well as changes in riverine chloride and nitrate concentrations during the low-flow regime and available N levels in agricultural soils of this watershed. The modified ReNuMa model is applicable for addressing long-term changes in riverine N sources, providing decision-makers with critical information for guiding watershed N pollution control strategies.