Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Flow-Solute : A Tool for Exploring the Effects of Nitrogen Management in Alternative Future Scenarios

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  • Surface water quality is a growing concern in the Willamette River Basin and elsewhere. The region's growing population is dependent on the availability of clean water for drinking water, irrigation, wastewater dilution, and wildlife habitat. Watershed management to produce economic goods and environmental services requires an understanding of basic hydrologic processes in addition to tools that accurately represent the interactions between human activity, biophysical processes, and climate change. In this study we developed a plug-in for the Envision modeling framework to explore where interactions between climate change and human activities are most likely to result in impaired water quality. This study has two primary objectives. The first is to develop a plug-in for Envision that can accurately simulate the effect of agricultural practices (e.g. fertilizer application rates and timing, crop selection, etc.) on the system's nitrogen budget. The second objective is to explore the landscape response to three future scenarios of changing climate, agricultural practices, and conservation actions as measured by nitrogen loading to surface waters in the Calapooia River Basin. The model we developed for this study was created by integrating algorithms from two widely used models: a conceptual hydrologic model and a nitrogen dynamics model. A number of changes were required to merge the two models and the accuracy of streamflow predictions suffered. The result of the scenario analysis was consistent with our expectations beginning the study: warmer and wetter climate scenarios were associated with higher annual nitrogen export rates, and policies that resulted in lower fertilizer application led to a decrease in annual nitrogen export rates.
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