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Modeling the Distribution of Nonpoint Nitrogen Sources and Sinks in the Neuse River Basin of North Carolina, USA

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Abstract:This study quantified nonpoint nitrogen (N) sources and sinks across the 14,582 km2 Neuse River Basin (NRB) located in North Carolina, to provide a tabular database to initialize in-stream N decay models and graphic overlay products for the development of management approaches to best achieve established N reduction goals. Modeling efforts included the development of a remote sensing derived land-cover classification to identify individual landscape modeling elements, followed by mass-balance modeling to quantify potential sources of excess N, and precipitation event driven hydrologic modeling to effectively transport N to individual stream reaches with subsequent labeling of transported N values corresponding to source origin. Results indicated that agricultural land contributed 55.3% of the total annual NPS-N loadings, followed by forested land at 23.0% (background), and urban areas at 20.9%. Average annual N source contributions were quantified for agricultural (1.4 kg/ha), urban (1.2 kg/ha) and forested cover types (0.5 kg/ha). NPS-N source contributions were greatest during the winter (39.8%), followed by spring (31.7%), summer (28.2%), and fall (0.3%).

Seasonal total N loadings shifted from urban and forest dominated sources during the winter, to agricultural sources in the spring and summer. A quantitative assessment of the significant NRB land-use activities indicated that high and medium density urban development (>35% 1 impervious) were the greatest contributor on NPS- N on a unit area basis (1.9 and 1.6 kg/ha/yr, respectively), followed by row crops and pasture and hay agricultural cover types (1.4 kg/ha/yr).
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Citation:Lunetta, R. S., R. G. Greene, and J. G. Lyon. Modeling the Distribution of Nonpoint Nitrogen Sources and Sinks in the Neuse River Basin of North Carolina, USA. SOIL AND SEDIMENT CONTAMINATION: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL 41(5):1129-1147, (2005).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Landscape Characterization Branch (RTP)
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 02/10/2005
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Bullet Item Modeling the Distribution of Nonpoint Nitrogen Sources and Sinks in the Neuse River Basin of North Carolina, USA
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Landscape Characterization and Change Detection Methods Development Research (2005-2007)
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