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The interactive responses of water quality and hydrology to changes in multiple stressors, and implications for the long-term effective management of phosphorus

Crossman, J., Whitehead, P., Futter, M. N., Jin, L., Shahgedanova, M., Castellazzi, M. and Wade, A. (2013) The interactive responses of water quality and hydrology to changes in multiple stressors, and implications for the long-term effective management of phosphorus. Science of the Total Environment, 454-455. pp. 230-244. ISSN 0048-9697

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.02.033

Abstract/Summary

Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) plays a key role in eutrophication, a global problem decreasing habitat quality and in-stream biodiversity. Mitigation strategies are required to prevent SRP fluxes from exceeding critical levels, and must be robust in the face of potential changes in climate, land use and a myriad of other influences. To establish the longevity of these strategies it is therefore crucial to consider the sensitivity of catchments to multiple future stressors. This study evaluates how the water quality and hydrology of a major river system in the UK (the River Thames) respond to alterations in climate, land use and water resource allocations, and investigates how these changes impact the relative performance of management strategies over an 80-year period. In the River Thames, the relative contributions of SRP from diffuse and point sources vary seasonally. Diffuse sources of SRP from agriculture dominate during periods of high runoff, and point sources during low flow periods. SRP concentrations rose under any future scenario which either increased a) surface runoff or b) the area of cultivated land. Under these conditions, SRP was sourced from agriculture, and the most effective single mitigation measures were those which addressed diffuse SRP sources. Conversely, where future scenarios reduced flow e.g. during winters of reservoir construction, the significance of point source inputs increased, and mitigation measures addressing these issues became more effective. In catchments with multiple point and diffuse sources of SRP, an all-encompassing effective mitigation approach is difficult to achieve with a single strategy. In order to attain maximum efficiency, multiple strategies might therefore be employed at different times and locations, to target the variable nature of dominant SRP sources and pathways.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Walker Institute
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:32599
Publisher:Elsevier

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