This study examines the inter‐ and intra‐annual variability of different forms of N [total nitrogen (TN), nitrate‐nitrogen (N‐NO3) and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN)] in stream waters of a rural headwater catchment in Galicia (NW Spain) during a 5‐year period, covering 2004–2009 water years (October–September). Daily time series were used to verify the temporal variability and to characterize the nitrogen pollution. The TN concentrations were low, although the values constantly exceeded the critical range (0.5–1.0 mg L−1) over which potential risk of eutrophication of water systems exists. Nitrate was the predominant form of nitrogen in the river throughout the study period, accounting for 82–85% of the TN. Significant differences were found for different forms of N between water years and seasons, indicative of wide inter‐ and intra‐annual variability of nitrogen concentrations, mainly related to rainfall and flow oscillations. The seasonal pattern in the concentrations of TN, N‐NO3 and TKN in stream water was similar to many humid and temperate catchments, with higher concentrations in winter, when variability was also the highest in the period, and lower values in summer.
Part of the book: Nitrogen in Agriculture
Climate change is likely to have profound impacts on quality of water resources, by altering the magnitude and timing of nutrient delivery to stream network. However, water quality responses to climate change are difficult to predict, especially for nutrient loads because of combined uncertainties in water quality and quantity projections. In this study, the potential medium (2031–2060) and long-term (2069–2098) impacts of project changes in climate variables (temperature, rainfall and CO2 concentration) on nitrate load in an Atlantic agro-forested catchment (NW Spain) were assessed using the soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) model. Climate change scenarios are based on data projected by regional models from the ENSEMBLES project and two CO2 concentration scenarios. The results showed that nitrate load will increase in the future horizons (2031–2060, 6%; 2069–2098, 7%) in relation to current values (1981–2010), possibly due to the decline in grassland biomass, as well as an increase in the rate of mineralisation linked to the increase in temperature. Consequently, lower rates of fertilisers will be needed in these areas in future horizons, which should be taken into consideration when planning management strategies in order to mitigate the impacts of potential climate change.
Part of the book: Climate Change and Global Warming