The patterns of temporal variations of precipitation (P), streamflow (SF) and baseflow (BF) as well as their nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) concentrations (C) and loads (L) from a long-term record (28 years) in the Raccoon River, Iowa, were analyzed using variogram and spectral analyses. The daily P is random but scaling may exist in the daily SF and BF with a possible break point in the scaling at about 18 days and 45 days, respectively. The nitrate concentrations and loads are shown to have a half-year cycle while daily P, SF, and BF have a one-year cycle. Furthermore, there may be a low-frequency cycle of 6-8 years in C. The power spectra of C and L in both SF and BF exhibit fractal 1/f scaling with two characteristic frequencies of half-year and one-year, and are fitted well with the spectrum of the gamma distribution. The nitrate input to SF and BF at the Raccoon watershed seems likely to be a white noise process superimposed on another process with a half-year and one-year cycle. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.