A time-varying, multispecies, modular, three-dimensional transport model (MT3DMS) was developed to simulate groundwater transport of nitrogen from increasing sources on land to the shore of Nauset Marsh, a coastal embayment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Simulated time-dependent nitrogen loads at the coast can be used to correlate with current observed coastal eutrophic effects, to predict current and ultimate effects of development, and to predict loads resulting from source remediation. A time-varying nitrogen load, corrected for subsurface loss, was applied to the land subsurface in the transport model based on five land-use coverages documenting increasing development from 1951 to 1999. Simulated nitrogen loads to Nauset Marsh increased from 230 kg/yr before 1930 to 4390 kg/yr in 2001 to 7130 kg/yr in 2100, assuming future nitrogen sources constant at the 1999 land-use rate. The simulated nitrogen load per area of embayment was 5 times greater for Salt Pond, a eutrophic landward extension of Nauset Marsh, than for other Nauset Marsh areas. Sensitivity analysis indicated that load results were little affected by changes in vertical discretization and annual recharge but much affected by the nitrogen loss rate assumed for a kettle lake downgradient from a landfill.
Additional publication details
Transient simulations of nitrogen load for a coastal aquifer and embayment, Cape Cod, MA