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Digital data used to relate nutrient input to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

January 1, 2001

Digital data sets compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey were used as input for a collection of Spatially Referenced Regressions On Watershed (SPARROW) attributes for the Chesapeake Bay region including parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. These regressions use a nonlinear statistical approach to relate nutrient sources and land-surface characteristics to nutrient loads of streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A digital segmented-watershed network serves as the primary framework for spatially referencing nutrient-source and land-surface characteristic data within a geographic information system.

Flow direction and flow accumulation generated from a 30-meter cell-size Digital Elevation Model and attributes from 1:500,000-scale stream data were used to generate stream and watershed networks. Spatial data sets representing nutrient inputs of total nitrogen and total phosphorus from the early 1990's were created and compiled from numerous sources. Data include atmospheric deposition, septic systems, point-source locations, land use, land cover, and agricultural sources such as commercial fertilizer and manure. Some land-surface characteristic data sets representing factors that affect the transport of nutrients also were compiled. Data sets include land use, land cover, average-annual precipitation and temperature, slope, hydrogeomorphic regions, and soil permeability.

Nutrient-input and land-surface characteristic data sets merged with the segmented-watershed network provide the spatial detail by watershed segment required by SPARROW. Stream-nutrient load estimates for 132 sampling sites representing the early 1990's (103 for total nitrogen and 121 for total phosphorus) serve as the dependent variables for the regressions. These estimates were used to calibrate models of total nitrogen and total phosphorus depicting 1992 land-surface conditions. Examples of model predictions consist of stream-nutrient load and source percentages contributed locally to each stream reach, as well as percentages of the load that reach Chesapeake Bay.

Publication Year 2001
Title Digital data used to relate nutrient input to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
DOI 10.3133/ofr01251
Authors John W. Brakebill, Stephen D. Preston, Sarah K. Martucci
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2001-251
Index ID ofr01251
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Maryland Water Science Center