NLOAD: AN INTERACTIVE, WEB-BASED MODELING TOOL FOR NITROGEN MANAGEMENT IN ESTUARIES Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Eutrophication of estuaries is an increasing global concern that requires development of new tools to identify causes, quantify conditions, and propose management options that address this environmental problem. Since eutrophication is often associated with increased inputs of land-derived nitrogen to estuaries, we developed NLOAD, a user-friendly, web-based tool that brings together six different published models that predict nitrogen loading to estuaries and two models that estimate nitrogen concentrations in coastal waters. Here we describe each of the models, demonstrate how NLOAD is designed to function, and then use the models in NLOAD to predict nitrogen loads to Barnegat Bay, New Jersey (USA). The four models that we used to estimate nitrogen loads to Barnegat Bay, when adjusted, all had similar results that matched well with measured values and indicated that Barnegat Bay receives roughly 26 kg N·ha?1·yr?1. Atmospheric deposition was the dominant source of nitrogen to Barnegat Bay, followed by fertilizer nitrogen. Wastewater in Barnegat Bay is diverted to an offshore outfall and contributes no nitrogen to the system. The NLOAD tool has an additional feature that allows managers to assess the effectiveness of a variety of management options to reduce nitrogen loads. We demonstrate this feature of NLOAD through simulations in which fertilizer inputs to the Barnegat Bay watershed are reduced. Even modest cutbacks in the use of fertilizers on agricultural fields and lawns can be shown to reduce the amount of N entering Barnegat Bay.

publication date

  • July 2007