Submitted as: model evaluation paper
05 Jun 2024
Submitted as: model evaluation paper |  | 05 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Short-term effects of hurricanes on nitrate-nitrogen runoff loading: a case study of Hurricane Ida using E3SM land model (v2.1)

Yilin Fang, Hoang Viet Tran, and L. Ruby Leung

Abstract. When nutrient level in the soil surpasses vegetation demand, nutrient losses due to surface runoff and subsurface leaching are the major reasons for the deterioration of water quality. The Lower Mississippi river basin (LMRB) is one of the sub-basins that deliver the highest nitrogen loads to the Gulf of Mexico. Potential changes in episodic events induced by hurricanes may exacerbate water quality issue in the future. However, uncertainties in modeling the hydrologic response to hurricanes may limit the modeling of nutrient losses during such events. Using a machine learning approach, we calibrated the land component of the Energy Exascale Earth System model (E3SM), or ELM, version 2.1, based on the water table depth (WTD) of a calibrated 3D subsurface hydrology model. While the overall performance of the calibrated ELM is satisfactory, some discrepancies in WTD remain in slope areas with low precipitation due to the missing lateral flow process in ELM. Simulations including biogeochemistry performed using ELM with and without model calibration showed important influences of soil hydrology, precipitation intensity, and runoff parameterization on the magnitude of nitrogen runoff loss and leaching pathway. Despite such sensitivities, both ELM simulations produced reduced WTD and increased runoff and accelerated nitrate-nitrogen runoff loading during Hurricane Ida in August 2021, consistent with the observations. With observations suggesting more pronounced effects of Hurricane Ida on nitrogen runoff than the simulations, we identified factors for model improvement to provide a useful tool for studying hurricane-induced nutrient losses in the LMRB region.

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Yilin Fang, Hoang Viet Tran, and L. Ruby Leung

Status: open (until 31 Jul 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Yilin Fang, Hoang Viet Tran, and L. Ruby Leung

Data sets

Data used to study the short-term effects of hurricane Ida on nitrate-nitrogen runoff loading using E3SM land model Yilin Fang

Model code and software

E3SM land model used to study the short-term effects of hurricanes on nitrate-nitrogen runoff loading Yilin Fang

Yilin Fang, Hoang Viet Tran, and L. Ruby Leung


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Short summary
Hurricanes may worsen the water quality in the lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB) by increasing nutrient runoff. We found that runoff parameterizations greatly affect nitrate-nitrogen runoff simulated using an Earth system land model. Our simulations predicted increased nitrogen runoff in LMRB during Hurricane Ida in 2021, but less pronounced than the observations, indicating areas for model improvement to better understand and manage nutrient runoff loss during hurricanes in the region.