Flux and Sources of Nutrients in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin


This report addresses the following two questions: - What are the loads (flux) of nutrients transported from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, and where do they come from within the basin? - What is the relative importance of specific human activities, such as agriculture, point-source discharges, and atmospheric deposition in contributing to these loads? These questions were addressed by first estimating the flux of nutrients from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin and about 50 interior basins in the Mississippi River system using measured historical streamflow and water quality data. Annual nutrient inputs and outputs to each basin were estimated using data from the National Agriculturel Statistics Service, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, and point-source data provided by the USEPA. Next, a nitrogen mass balance was developed using agricultural statistics, estimates of nutrient cycling in agricultural systems, and a geographic information system. Finally, multiple regression models were developed to estimate the relative contributions of the major input sources to the flux of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico.


130 pages; available for download at the link below.


dissolved nutrients, Gulf of Mexico, flux, Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin, Mississippi River, nutrient loading, water pollution, eutrophication