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Evaluation and application of INCA-P and HBV to surface waters in the Muskoka River Watershed

Peter Dillon (PI/Trent University)
Julian Aherne (co-PI/Trent University)
Jill Crossman (Post-doctoral researcher/Trent University)


Concentrations of the nutrient phosphorus is a key concern in rivers and lakes, due to its potential biological impacts. In the Muskoka River Watershed it is unknown how phosphorus concentrations will change in response to changes in climate, land use and atmospheric deposition.

Two models are being evaluated and compared to project lake and river quantity and quality, with a focus on phosphorus. This comparison enables accommodation of uncertainty to ensure Lake Managers are provided with robust tools to predict water based services.

The aims of this project are to:

  1. Use new and existing chemistry and hydrology data to refine and calibrate the model INCA- P.
  2. Use INCA-P to forecast future water quantity and quality – with a focus on phosphorus, under changing conditions (climate, land use and atmospheric deposition).
  3. Assess uncertainty in future projections by comparison with SWAT application.


Dr. Jill Crossman will be undertaking this project, focusing on the Harp, Dickie and Plastic watersheds of the Muskoka Catchment. Jill will use historical data from 1978 – to 2011 to calibrate the model, and will test the application using new data from a sampling regime being undertaken in 2012 – 2014. Global climate models and Geographical Information Systems will be used to forecast future climate scenarios and land use change.


Update - November 2013

Historical data for the Harp, Dickie and Plastic watersheds collected from 2001 to 2008 have been used to calibrate the INCA-P model and develop model "hind-casts" back to 1978. Through hind-casting, the sources and pathways of large changes in phosphorus loads during the past 30 years have been determined. The accuracy of the model process dynamics, as applied to the Muskoka watersheds, are being tested, or "validated" using new data collected in the watersheds over the past few years.