Investigating the Temporal Scales of Nutrient transport in a prairie watershed using High-Frequency Hydrological and Water Quality Data

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Penner, Amber
Ali, Genevieve
Ross, Cody
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A greater understanding of hydrological processes is needed to interpret patterns present in water quality data under various climatic conditions (wet, intermediate, dry), seasons (spring, summer, fall), and events (snowmelt-driven, rainfall-triggered). This is especially true in intensely managed Prairie watersheds which are vulnerable to faster flows due to engineered stormwater-control infrastructure (surface drains) and high nutrient loading from agricultural fields. The extent to which those water management practices determine short-term, medium-term and long-term water quality dynamics remains unclear. Here we relied on high-frequency meteorological data, water level fluctuation data, and nutrient concentrations data to examine the relationships between runoff processes and water quality dynamics in a typical Prairie landscape. Three specific objectives were pursued: (1) compare sub-watershed input- output dynamics; (2) analyze nutrient export dynamics as a function of flow rise and flow recession periods; and, (3) determine the season-averaged time lags between flow peaks and nutrient concentration peaks.
temporal, nutrient transport, hydrology, prairie, water quality, high-frequency