Mekong River, water quality, nitrogen, phosphorus, nutrient pulse, erosion
HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES; Vol.25 23; 3590-3601
To better understand the variation of water quality in the Mekong River, sampling and measurement were scheduled twice a week for about 3 years at Vientiane, followed by basic statistical analysis of the observed data. The frequent measurement revealed detailed characteristics of the water quality variation, which had not been detected by monthly observation in the previous studies. The variation in total ionic content was considered to be governed by dilution of the amount of water. Increases in turbidity could be attributed to physical effects including surface soil erosion and bed material resuspension at the time of discharge increase. Nitrogen concentrations were stably low during the low flow period and abruptly increased in May. After the annual maximum in late May, the nitrate concentration steadily decreased regardless of the remarkable rise in the discharge from mid-July, whereas the ammonium concentration remained at a similar level until October. It was considered that the first small discernable runoff after the long dry season flushed the accumulated nitrogen in the surface soil and mobilized the nitrogen in the riverbed. The variation in phosphorus concentrations was different from that in nitrogen concentrations. During the high flow period, continual dilutions at discharge peaks and occasional large additions of phosphorus by surface runoff were suggested. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.