Integrated Nitrogen CAtchment model (INCA) applied to a tropical catchment in the Atlantic Forest, São Paulo, Brazil
Abstract. Stream-water flows and in-stream nitrate and ammonium concentrations in a small (36.7 ha) Atlantic Forest catchment were simulated using the Integrated Nitrogen in CAtchments (INCA) model version 1.9.4. The catchment, at Cunha, is in the Serra do Mar State Park, SE Brazil and is nearly pristine because the nearest major conurbations, São Paulo and Rio, are some 450 km distant. However, intensive farming may increase nitrogen (N) deposition and there are growing pressures for urbanisation. The mean-monthly discharges and NO3-N concentration dynamics were simulated adequately for the calibration and validation periods with (simulated) loss rates of 6.55 kg.ha−1 yr−1 for NO3-N and 3.85 kg.ha−1 yr−1 for NH4-N. To investigate the effects of elevated levels of N deposition in the future, various scenarios for atmospheric deposition were simulated; the highest value corresponded to that in a highly polluted area of Atlantic Forest in Sao Paulo City. It was found that doubling the atmospheric deposition generated a 25% increase in the N leaching rate, while at levels approaching the highly polluted São Paulo deposition rate, five times higher than the current rate, leaching increased by 240%, which would create highly eutrophic conditions, detrimental to downstream water quality. The results indicate that the INCA model can be useful for estimating N concentration and fluxes for different atmospheric deposition rates and hydrological conditions.