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Geospatial data for developing nutrient SPARROW models for the Midcontinental region of Canada and the United States

January 1, 2019

Through the International Watersheds Initiative of the International Joint Commission (IJC), the SpatiallyReferenced Regressions on Watershed attributes (SPARROW) model developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is being applied to the Great Lakes, Rainy River – Lake of the Woods and Red-Assiniboine basins. The objective of this binational application of the SPARROW model is to better understand and quantify the sources of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) that contribute to regional water-quality issues like algal blooms and eutrophication in Lake Erie and other parts of the Great Lakes, as well as Lake of the Woods. Led by the IJC, a team of researchers from the National Research Council of Canada – Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, USGS, and IJC are extending the SPARROW modelling work previously completed for the Red-Assiniboine basin and the U.S. portions of the Great Lakes, Ohio, Upper Mississippi, and Souris-Red-Rainy river basins to cover all of the Great Lakes, Rainy River – Lake of the Woods and RedAssiniboine basins. The current effort is termed the Midcontinent SPARROW modelling study.

This report describes the data used to develop the Midcontinent SPARROW models, specifically the sources of original data, assembling the data, and the processing and harmonization required between the U.S. and Canada data needed to produce these models. Details provided include the:

  • development of a digital stream network and related catchments – most significantly in the Canadian regions of the Great Lakes and Rainy River – Lake of the Woods basins where these data were not available to create a seamless binational network across the model domain;
  • calculation of variables to aid in the determination of in-stream and in-reservoir decay of P and N;
  • quantification of Canadian diversions within the Midcontinental region (i.e., Lake St. Joseph, Long Lake and the Ogoki Reservoir);
  • development of binational input nutrient sources considered for model development (i.e., land cover, inorganic farm fertilizer, manure, atmospheric deposition, point-source pollution from wastewatertreatment plants and contribution from non-modelled watersheds); and
  • development of delivery variables considered to be most predominant (i.e., temperature, precipitation and ensuing runoff, soil permeability and clay content, slope of the catchments, and tile drainage).

The majority of the geospatial data collection and processing was required for Canadian datasets because many of the U.S. datasets were already assembled for previous SPARROW model applications in the U.S. The task of harmonizing data between the U.S. and Canada was important to ensure consistency of the datasets used in the models. The harmonized digital stream network, delineated catchments and input data for each catchment (i.e., source and delivery variables), created for the Midcontinent SPARROW models, are available for download at url:

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Geospatial data for developing nutrient SPARROW models for the Midcontinental region of Canada and the United States
DOI 10.4224/23004810
Authors Ivana Vouk, Richard S. Burcher, Craig M. Johnston, R. Wayne Jenkinson, David A. Saad, John S. Gaiot, Glenn A. Benoy, Dale M. Robertson, Michael Laitta
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number OCRE-TR-2018-014
Index ID 70201703
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center

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