Comparison of methods for calculating annual solute exports from six forested Appalachian watersheds

Bryan R. Swistock, Pamela J. Edwards, Frederica Wood, David R. Dewalle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Six methods were compared for calculating annual stream exports of sulfate, nitrate, calcium, magnesium and aluminum from six small Appalachian watersheds. Approximately 250-400 stream samples and concurrent stream flow measurements were collected during baseflows and storm flows for the 1989 water year at five Pennsylvania watersheds and during the 1989-1992 water years at a West Virginia watershed. Continuous stream flow records were also collected at each watershed. Solute exports were calculated from the complete data set using six different scenarios ranging from instantaneous monthly measurements of stream chemistry and stream flow, to intensive monitoring of storm flow events and multiple regression equations. The results for five of the methods were compared with the regression method because statistically significant models were developed and the regression equations allowed for prediction of solute concentrations during unsampled storm flows. Results indicated that continuous stream flow measurement was critical to producing exports within 10% of regression estimates. For solutes whose concentrations were not correlated strongly with stream flow, weekly grab samples combined with continuous records of stream flow were sufficient to produce export estimates within 10% of the regression method. For solutes whose concentrations were correlated strongly with stream flow, more intensive sampling during storm flows or the use of multiple regression equations were the most appropriate methods, especially for watersheds where stream flows changed most quickly. Concentration-stream flow relationships, stream hydrological response, available resources and required level of accuracy of chemical budgets should be considered when choosing a method for calculating solute exports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-669
Number of pages15
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 15 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of methods for calculating annual solute exports from six forested Appalachian watersheds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this