Total mercury (THg) load in rivers is often calculated from a site-specific “rating-curve” based on the relation between THg concentration and river discharge along with a continuous record of river discharge. However, there is no physical explanation as to why river discharge should consistently predict THg or any other suspended analyte. THg loads calculated by the rating-curve method were compared with those calculated by a “continuous surrogate concentration” (CSC) method in which a relation between THg concentration and suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) is constructed; THg loads then can be calculated from the continuous record of SSC and river discharge.
The rating-curve and CSC methods, respectively, indicated annual THg loads of 46.4 and 75.1 kg for the Mohawk River, and 52.9 and 33.1 kg for the upper Hudson River. Differences between the results of the two methods are attributed to the inability of the rating-curve method to adequately characterize atypical high flows such as an ice-dam release, or to account for hysteresis, which typically degrades the strength of the relation between stream discharge and concentration of material in suspension.
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Wall, G.R., Ingleston, H.H. & Litten, S. Calculating Mercury Loading to The Tidal Hudson River, New York, Using Rating Curve and Surrogate Methodologies. Water Air Soil Pollut 165, 233–248 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-005-5146-1
- Hudson River
- Mohawk River
- rating curve
- suspended-sediment concentration