Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-681
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-681

  12 Jan 2021

12 Jan 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A Bayesian approach to understanding the key factors influencing temporal variability in stream water quality: a case study in the Great Barrier Reef catchments

Shuci Liu1, Dongryeol Ryu1, J. Anugs Webb1, Anna Lintern1,2, Danlu Guo1, David Waters3, and Andrew W. Western1 Shuci Liu et al.
  • 1Department of Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, VIC, 3800
  • 3Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Toowoomba, QLD, 4350

Abstract. Stream water quality is highly variable both across space and time. Water quality monitoring programs have collected a large amount of data that provide a good basis to investigate the key drivers of spatial and temporal variability. Event-based water quality monitoring data in the Great Barrier Reef catchments in northern Australia provides an opportunity to further our understanding of water quality dynamics in sub-tropical and tropical regions. This study investigated nine water quality constituents, including sediments, nutrients and salinity, with the aim of: 1) identifying the influential environmental drivers of temporal variation in flow event concentrations; and 2) developing a modelling framework to predict the temporal variation in water quality at multiple sites simultaneously. This study used a hierarchical Bayesian model averaging framework to explore the relationship between event concentration and catchment-scale environmental variables (e.g., runoff, rainfall and groundcover conditions). Key factors affecting the temporal changes in water quality varied among constituent concentrations, as well as between catchments. Catchment rainfall and runoff affected in-stream particulate constituents, while catchment wetness and vegetation cover had more impact on dissolved nutrient concentration and salinity. In addition, in large dry catchments, antecedent catchment soil moisture and vegetation had a large influence on dissolved nutrients, which highlights the important effect of catchment hydrological connectivity on pollutant mobilisation and delivery.

Shuci Liu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2020-681', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Feb 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2020-681', Anonymous Referee #2, 19 Feb 2021

Shuci Liu et al.

Shuci Liu et al.

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Short summary
Riverine water quality can change markedly at one particular location. This study developed predictive models to represent the temporal variation of stream water quality across the Great Barrier Reef catchments, Australia. The model structures were informed by a data-driven approach, which is useful to identify important factors determining temporal changes in water quality and, in turn, provide critical information for developing management strategies.