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Keywords:

  • background loads;
  • emission modelling;
  • nitrogen and phosphorus emissions;
  • river basin management;
  • water quality

Abstract

Mountainous catchments are usually not in focus of the modelling of nutrient fluxes on catchment scale. Out of 9 model approaches tested in the EU-project EUROHARP only MONERIS claims to be capable of modelling nitrogen and phosphorus emissions in a landscape with mountainous slope. Results derived in the present study indicate that the MONERIS 2.14 model in its current version is not able to reproduce the measured nutrient loads in rivers from alpine catchments in Austria with a size of 70 to 400 km2. Despite this apparent limitation, MONERIS delivers a framework flexible enough to offer the possibility for the introduction of adaptations to regions that had not been a focus during its development. Significant improvements in model performance have been achieved during this study with relatively simple adaptations: (i) calibration a snowmelt constants, (ii) adaptation of the nitrogen balance for open and naturally covered areas, (iii) adaptation of the denitrification approach for groundwater of solid rock areas with low nitrogen surplus and high amount of leakage water, (iv) introduction of the differentiation of area-specific suspended solids emission factors for mountainous open areas covered either with glaciers or not, (v) definition of new input parameters for phosphorus concentrations in solid limestone and schist/gneiss rocks and of dissolved phosphorus concentrations in surface runoff and groundwater flow for mountainous areas. (© 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)