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Hydrology Research Vol 40 No 2-3 pp 153–166 © IWA Publishing 2009 doi:10.2166/nh.2009.073

Modelling the effects of changing climate and nitrogen deposition on nitrate dynamics in a Scottish mountain catchment

M. N. Futter, R. C. Helliwell, M. Hutchins and J. Aherne

Macaulay Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK Tel.: +44 1224 395 148 Fax: +44 1224 311 556 E-mail: m.futter@macaulay.ac.uk
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford Oxon, OX10 8BB, UK
Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough Ontario, K9J 7B8, Canada


ABSTRACT

The effect of changing climate and N deposition on montane ecosystems is a topic of considerable importance. Mountains are vulnerable environments and their ecosystems are often in a delicate balance. An application of the INCA-N model is presented to simulate current-day nitrate dynamics in a Scottish mountain lake and to project the possible future effects of climate change and reductions in N deposition on lake nitrate concentration ([NO3-]). The INCA-N model is calibrated using data from 1996–2006 in an attempt to determine the controls on [NO3-] in Lochnagar and process sensitivities to changing climate. Predictions were sensitive to hydrologic, vegetation-related and in-soil processes. Over the longer term, surface water [NO3-] in this mountain ecosystem is expected to increase. From 2020 to 2100, when N deposition is modelled at a constant rate, warmer temperature exerts a stronger effect on N losses to the lake surface than the N deposition. While the effects of a warming climate are projected to lead to increased surface water [NO3-], concentrations are not projected to either return to, or exceed, historical levels.

Keywords: climate change; Lochnagar; modeling; mountain lakes; nitrate; water quality


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