In two catchment areas with altogether eight subcatchments characterising different site-specific situations the interaction between anthropogenic activities (e.g. agriculture, nutrition and waste water management), nitrogen emissions and in stream loads as well as concentrations were studied in detail. Groundwater is the most important pathway for nitrogen inputs into surface waters. Denitrification in the soil/subsurface/groundwater system controls the amount of this input to a high extent. Key factors influencing this process are organic carbon availability, geology, precipitation and groundwater recharge rates as well as residence time in groundwater. The MONERIS emission model is a useful tool to quantify these relationships on (sub-)catchment scale. Areas where concentrations in groundwater (e.g. nitrate) tend to be higher due to little dilution with water and might be problematic in respect to limit values for drinking water, are much less relevant in respect to the loads transported to river systems and receiving seas, than regions with high precipitation. In cases with high water availability mainly high loads transported downstream and finally to the receiving sea are a considerable problem. Within a region mainly areas close to river systems contribute to nitrogen discharges to the river system because of the short residence times of the groundwater from these areas and - related to this - a lower influence of denitrification in the groundwater.

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