, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 424-432

A comparative study on nitrogen-concentration dynamics in surface water in a heterogeneous landscape

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With point-source pollution controlled effectively, nonpoint-source pollution, especially that resulting from agricultural land, has become the main factor affecting surface water. Much attention has been focused on the impact of fertilizer and pesticide application, wastewater irrigation, and land management on pollutant transport. However, landscape pattern also plays an important role in pollutant transport and detention. Landscape types may be classified into two parts: "source" and "sink" landscapes, based on their functions in pollutant transport and detention. As a major contributor to eutrophication of waterbodies, nitrogen loss with runoff has received particular attention when studying nonpoint-source pollution. In this study, four watersheds in the upper parts of the Yuqiao Reservoir Basin, Zuihua, Hebei Province, China, were chosen in order to study the relationship between landscape pattern and nitrogen-concentration dynamics. The results indicate that (1) nitrogen concentration in surface water within different seasons in the rainfall-normal year is higher than that in the rainfall-deficit year and (2) the variation of nitrogen concentration within different seasons in the rainfall-deficit year is smaller compared with that in the rainfall-normal year in which two types of seasonal variation on nitrogen concentration are presented. The first variation occurs when nitrogen concentration is lowest in the dry season, and rises rapidly from the dry season to rainy season and then declines quickly from the rainy season to mean-flow season. This mainly occurs in those areas where most "source" landscapes are close to the monitored waterbody. The second variation occurs when nitrogen concentration is low in the dry season, increases rapidly in the rainy season but does not reach its peak value until the mean flow season. The second variation occurs in those areas where "source" landscape types are spread over the whole watershed. There is no clear relationship between watershed shape, relative importance of landscape types, and nitrogen concentration; however, the spatial distribution of "source" and "sink" landscape types in the watershed has a strong impact on the nitrogen concentration in surface water.

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