Characterising phosphorus transfers in rural catchments using a continuous bank-side analyser

Philip Jordan, Joerg Arnscheidt, H. McGrogan, S. McCormick

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A six-month series of high-resolution synchronous stream discharge and total phosphorus (TP) concentration data is presented from a 5 km(2) agricultural catchment in the Lough Neagh basin, Northern Ireland. The data arc hourly averages of 10-minute measurements using a new bankside, automatic, continuous monitoring technology. Three TPtransfer `event-types' occur in this catchment: (1) chronic, storm independent transfers; (2) acute, storm dependent transfers; (3) acute, storm independent transfers. Event-type 2 transferred over 90% of the total 279 kg TP load in 39% of the total period; it corresponded to diffuse transfers from agricultural soils. Event-types 1 and 3, however, maintained the river in a highly eutrophic state between storm events and were characteristic of point source pollution, despite there being no major industrial or municipal point sources. Managing P transfers at the catchment scale requires a robust monitoring technology to differentiate between dynamic, multiple sources and associated event types and so enable a reliable assessment of the performance of mitigation measures, monitored at catchment outlets. The synchronous and continuous TP and discharge data series generated in this study demonstrate how this is possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-381
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2007


  • total phosphorus
  • phosphorus
  • phosphorus transfers
  • continuous monitoring
  • Lough Neagh catchment


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