The temporal scale effect of loading data on nitrate-nitrogen load computation was examined using outputs of watershed modeling tool Hydrologic Simulation Program-FORTRAN (HSPF) for the Amite River in Louisiana, USA. The daily nitrate-nitrogen concentrations simulated using the HSPF were employed first to obtain daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly average data and then to develop load duration curves for the data with four different temporal scales. The duration curves exhibited high variability in the load estimated using daily data as compared with those based on bi-weekly and monthly data. According to daily data, the nitrate-nitrogen load in the winter was found to be 2,780 kg. The nitrate-nitrogen load decreased with increasing temporal (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly) scale (commonly used in water quality monitoring) of the data. The coefficient of variation, used to quantify the effect of temporal scale on the load, was found to be linearly and inversely correlated with the logarithm of the time scale. Based on the finding, empirical equations were proposed to extrapolate near real-time data for flow and nitrate-nitrogen, greatly simplifying nutrient monitoring and reducing the cost involved in water quality monitoring.

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