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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1080

Streamflow and Nutrient Fluxes of the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin and Subbasins for the Period of Record Through 2005

By Brent T. Aulenbach, Herbert T. Buxton, William A. Battaglin, and Richard H. Coupe


U.S. Geological Survey has monitored streamflow and water quality systematically in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) for more than five decades. This report provides streamflow and estimates of nutrient delivery (flux) to the Gulf of Mexico from both the Atchafalaya River and the main stem of the Mississippi River. This report provides streamflow and nutrient flux estimates for nine major subbasins of the Mississippi River. This report also provides streamflow and flux estimates for 21 selected subbasins of various sizes, hydrology, land use, and geographic location within the Basin. The information is provided at each station for the period for which sufficient water-quality data are available to make statistically based flux estimates (starting as early as water year1 1960 and going through water year 2005). Nutrient fluxes are estimated using the adjusted maximum likelihood estimate, a type of regression-model method; nutrient fluxes to the Gulf of Mexico also are estimated using the composite method. Regression models were calibrated using a 5-year moving calibration period; the model was used to estimate the last year of the calibration period. Nutrient flux estimates are provided for six water-quality constituents: dissolved nitrite plus nitrate, total organic nitrogen plus ammonia nitrogen (total Kjeldahl nitrogen), dissolved ammonia, total phosphorous, dissolved orthophosphate, and dissolved silica.

Additionally, the contribution of streamflow and net nutrient flux for five large subbasins comprising the MARB were determined from streamflow and nutrient fluxes from seven of the aforementioned major subbasins. These five large subbasins are: 1. Lower Mississippi, 2. Upper Mississippi, 3. Ohio/Tennessee, 4. Missouri, and 5. Arkansas/Red.

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Suggested Citation:

Aulenbach, B.T., Buxton, H.T., Battaglin, W.A., and Coupe, R.H., 2007, Streamflow and nutrient fluxes of the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin and subbasins for the period of record through 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1080,


1The U.S. Geological Survey defines a water year as October 1st of the previous year to September 30th of the designated year; for example, water year 2005 is from October 1st, 2004 to September 30th, 2005.

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