Special Issue "Current Trends in Catchment Biogeochemical and Hydrological Modelling"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Aquatic Systems—Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. José L. J. Ledesma
Guest Editor
Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes, Spanish National Research Council, Carrer Accés Cala Sant Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
Interests: catchment biogeochemistry; catchment hydrology; biogeochemical modeling; hydrological modelling; riparian zone; terrestrial–aquatic interface; water quality; forest management; climate scenarios; dominant source layer

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biogeochemical and hydrological models are widely used in catchment science to test hypotheses, to improve process understanding, and to project future conditions (e.g., under changes in climate or land cover) for water and landscape management. Model ‘success’ and development have been partially constrained by the quality and spatiotemporal coverage of the observational data they are meant to simulate. The current widespread implementation of in situ sensors to characterize water quality and quantity have dramatically increased the temporal resolution of our observations. This trend is enabling novel conceptual frameworks and rapid developments in our understanding of natural systems. However, how are catchment biogeochemical and hydrological models combining high frequency data with long-term time series to develop new conceptualizations of catchment function? What are the current trends in catchment biogeochemical and hydrological modelling?

In this Special Issue, we invite studies involving innovative aspects of biogeochemical and hydrological modeling at the catchment scale, from small headwaters to large water basins. We welcome studies reporting both model development and new model applications. Studies can be focused on water or solute transport, including commonly studied compounds such as carbon and nutrients, contaminants such as heavy metals, or emerging contaminants such as organic pollutants or microplastics; and might involve isotopic tracers, future scenarios, or uncertainty assessments. The study questions can be purely mechanistic or be integrated in an applied context, such as forest management, agriculture, or drinking water production.

Dr. José L. J. Ledesma
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Catchment biogeochemical modelling
  • Catchment hydrological modelling
  • In situ water quality sensors
  • High-frequency monitoring data
  • Isotopic tracers
  • Solute and water transport
  • Contaminant transport
  • Water management
  • Land use management
  • Climate change

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The integration of dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand and phytoplankton into a process based dynamic phosphorus model: INCA-PECo
Authors: Jill Crossman; Paul Whitehead; Gianbattista Bussi; Emma Lannergård; Martyn Futter
Affiliation: Quantitative Hydrology Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research University of Windsor, Memorial Hall 401 Sunset Ave, Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4, USA
Abstract: The INCA series of process-based catchment models have to date supported the ability to simulate phosphorus, sediments, nitrogen, mercury, microplastics, pathogens and particulate organic pollutants. In this manuscript we will present the addition of new dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand and phytoplankton equations into INCA’s toolbox, generating an integrated model of phosphorus, sediment, ecology and oxygen (INCA-PEcO). The sensitivity of the model is quantified using Kling Gupte Efficiency tests across two quite different model applications; the first in Ontario, Canada where biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is low, and where seasonal freeze-thaw has considerable influence on nutrient loads, dissolved oxygen concentrations and on timing of phytoplankton growth. The second is in the South of England, UK, where snow is rare, where BOD is higher, and where a series of aerating weirs located along the rivers length have considerable influence. For the first time, this study will clearly document all equations contained within INCA-PEcO, allowing readers to easily understand how the model works, and to enable others to apply this fully integrated hydrochemical and ecological model for their own use.

Title: PERSiST 2.0: A rainfall runoff model for catchment science
Authors: Martyn Futter; Dan Butterfield; Jill Crossman; Janik Deutscher; Emma Lannergård; José Ledesma
Affiliation: Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lennart Hjelms väg 9, Uppsala 750 07, Sweden
Abstract: Here, we present a new version of PERSiST, the Precipitation, Evapotranspiration and Runoff Simulator for Solute Transport. PERSiST is a catchment scale rainfall-runoff model suitable for hydrological simulations across a range of spatial and temporal scales. The new model retains a number of features of the original version including an ability to specify multiple stores of water in the terrestrial part of the catchment and to simulate the hydrological consequences of multiple land cover types. It can simulate river networks of arbitrary complexity ranging from simple lumped representations to highly branched systems. The new model operates at an arbitrary, user-specified timestep. This means the new model can be calibrated against the increasingly available high-frequency time series generated by in-situ sensors. Multi-site, multi-parameter calibrations using a range of objective functions including the Kling-Gupta Efficiency are supported. The model can be calibrated to one or more observed time series of any of the following: streamflow, stage height, soil moisture and soil temperature. Calibrating to streamflow supports the standard way of using rainfall runoff models. Calibrating to stage height facilitates the development of model applications, e.g., in situations where sensors have been deployed to measure water level but traditional stage:discharge relationships have not been calculated. By providing the possibility to calibrate to soil moisture and other internal time series, the model can be applied at sites where streamflow does not occur and can contribute to reducing equifinality in the parameter space. The representation of streamflow, evapotranspiration and infiltration processes have been updated to be more physically realistic. Estimates of streamflow velocity and channel geometry are now based on Manning’s equation. Potential evapotranspiration is estimated using a Jensen-Haise / McGuinness type model forced by air temperature and modelled extra-solar radiation. Infiltration is limited by soil moisture and temperature. Soil temperature is simulated in the new model primarily to provide a means of limiting infiltration into frozen soils. We demonstrate the capability of the new model by simulating stream flow, stage height and soil moisture at sites in Sweden and the Czech Republic.

Title: INCA-ON(THE): A new, semi-distributed, catchment-scale nitrogen model
Authors: Martyn Futter; Dan Butterfield; Katri Rankinen; Hjalmar Laudon; Ryan Sponseller
Affiliation: Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lennart Hjelms väg 9, Uppsala 750 07, Sweden
Abstract: Here, we present the Integrated Catchments model for Organic Nitrogen (Terrestrial Hydrology Edition). This new model builds on and extends the INCA-N model for inorganic nitrogen. INCA-ON(THE) simulates all components of the water balance and supports complete nitrogen (N) mass-balances. Both instream and terrestrial N processes are simulated. Transformations between solid and dissolved organic nitrogen (ON) as well as transformations between inorganic N and ON are simulated; plant N uptake is explicitly linked to plant growth. The model can be calibrated against measurements of ammonia, nitrate, dissolved ON and streamflow made at one or more locations in a river network. We demonstrate the performance of the new model by applying it to two Nordic forested catchments: Krycklan in Sweden and Simojoki in Finland.

Title: Cloud Based Hydrological Modelling: Challenges and Opportunities
Authors: Dan Butterfield; Martyn Futter
Affiliation: ENMOSYS, Vermont, USA
Abstract: With a very small number of exceptions, the current generation of hydrologic models fail to take advantage of modern software development tools and the possibilities offered by cloud-based computing. Here, we report on the implementation of a cloud-based water quality modelling system using free and low-cost tools where we placed PERSiST, a legacy rainfall-runoff model at the center of a modern (mostly) free software ecosystem consisting of the model itself, a relational database for storing model inputs and outputs and a web-based front end. All these components are connected by a REST API. We used free editors, source code management systems, compilers, project management tools and web services to implement a proof of concept of a scalable, could-based, multi-user version of the PERSiST model that is well suited for distance learning. Our experiences show that modern software development environments are at least as important as open source software for scientific model development.

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