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Uncertainty Of Stream Nutrient Transport Estimates Using Random Sampling Of Storm Events From High Resolution Water Quality And Discharge Data

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2007
JournalAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract H51D-0753
Journal number52
Volume88
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The uncertainties associated with stream nutrient transport estimates are frequently overlooked and the sampling strategy is rarely if ever investigated. Indeed, the impact of sampling strategy and estimation method on the bias and precision of stream phosphorus (P) transport calculations is little understood despite the use of such values in the calibration and testing of models of phosphorus transport. The objectives of this research were to investigate the variability and uncertainty in the estimates of total phosphorus transfers at an intensively monitored agricultural catchment. The Oona Water which is located in the Irish border region, is part of a long term monitoring program focusing on water quality. The Oona Water is a rural river catchment with grassland agriculture and scattered dwelling houses and has been monitored for total phosphorus (TP) at 10 min resolution for several years (Jordan et al, 2007). Concurrent sensitive measurements of discharge are also collected. The water quality and discharge data were provided at 1 hour resolution (averaged) and this meant that a robust estimate of the annual flow weighted concentration could be obtained by simple interpolation between points. A two-strata approach (Kronvang and Bruhn, 1996) was used to estimate flow weighted concentrations using randomly sampled storm events from the 400 identified within the time series and also base flow concentrations. Using a random stratified sampling approach for the selection of events, a series ranging from 10 through to the full 400 were used, each time generating a flow weighted mean using a load-discharge relationship identified through log-log regression and monte-carlo simulation. These values were then compared to the observed total phosphorus concentration for the catchment. Analysis of these results show the impact of sampling strategy, the inherent bias in any estimate of phosphorus concentrations and the uncertainty associated with such estimates. The estimates generated using the full time series underestimate the flow weighted mean concentration of total phosphorus. This work compliments other contemporary work in the area of load estimation uncertainty in the UK (Johnes, 2007). Johnes P,J. 2007, Uncertainties in annual riverine phosphorus load estimation: Impact of load estimation methodology, sampling frequency, baseflow index and catchment population density, Journal of hydrology 332 (1- 2): 241-258 Jordan, P., Arnscheidt, J., McGrogan, H & McCormick, S., 2007. Characterising phosphorus transfers in rural transfers using a continuous bank-side analyser. Hydrology and Earth System Science 11, 372-381 Kronvang B & Bruhn, A. J, 1996. Choice of sampling strategy and estimation method for calculating nitrogen and phosphorus transport in small lowland streams , Hydrological processes 10 (11): 1483-1501

Bibliographic note

Conference abstract Uncertainty Of Stream Nutrient Transport Estimates Using Random Sampling Of Storm Events From High Resolution Water Quality And Discharge Data