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A modification of the Regional Nutrient Management model (ReNuMa) to identify long-term changes in riverine nitrogen sources


Source apportionment is critical for guiding development of efficient watershed nitrogen (N) pollution control measures. The ReNuMa (Regional Nutrient Management) model, a semi-empirical, semi-process-oriented model with modest data requirements, has been widely used for riverine N source apportionment. However, the ReNuMa model contains limitations for addressing long-term N dynamics by ignoring temporal changes in atmospheric N deposition rates and N-leaching lag effects. This work modified the ReNuMa model by revising the source code to allow yearly changes in atmospheric N deposition and incorporation of N-leaching lag effects into N transport processes. The appropriate N-leaching lag time was determined from cross-correlation analysis between annual watershed individual N source inputs and riverine N export. Accuracy of the modified ReNuMa model was demonstrated through analysis of a 31-year water quality record (1980–2010) from the Yongan watershed in eastern China. The revisions considerably improved the accuracy (Nash-Sutcliff coefficient increased by ∼0.2) of the modified ReNuMa model for predicting riverine N loads. The modified model explicitly identified annual and seasonal changes in contributions of various N sources (i.e., point vs. nonpoint source, surface runoff vs. groundwater) to riverine N loads as well as the fate of watershed anthropogenic N inputs. Model results were consistent with previously modeled or observed lag time length as well as changes in riverine chloride and nitrate concentrations during the low-flow regime and available N levels in agricultural soils of this watershed. The modified ReNuMa model is applicable for addressing long-term changes in riverine N sources, providing decision-makers with critical information for guiding watershed N pollution control strategies.

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