Impacts of climate change on in-stream nitrogen in a lowland chalk stream: An appraisal of adaptation strategies
Whitehead, P., Wilby, R. L., Butterfield, D. and Wade, A. J. (2006) Impacts of climate change on in-stream nitrogen in a lowland chalk stream: An appraisal of adaptation strategies. Science of the Total Environment, 365 (1-3). pp. 260-273. ISSN 0048-9697
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.02.040
The impacts of climate change on nitrogen (N) in a lowland chalk stream are investigated using a dynamic modelling approach. The INCA-N model is used to simulate transient daily hydrology and water quality in the River Kennet using temperature and precipitation scenarios downscaled from the General Circulation Model (GCM) output for the period 1961-2100. The three GCMs (CGCM2, CSIRO and HadCM3) yield very different river flow regimes with the latter projecting significant periods of drought in the second half of the 21st century. Stream-water N concentrations increase over time as higher temperatures enhance N release from the soil, and lower river flows reduce the dilution capacity of the river. Particular problems are shown to occur following severe droughts when N mineralization is high and the subsequent breaking of the drought releases high nitrate loads into the river system. Possible strategies for reducing climate-driven N loads are explored using INCA-N. The measures include land use change or fertiliser reduction, reduction in atmospheric nitrate and ammonium deposition, and the introduction of water meadows or connected wetlands adjacent to the river. The most effective strategy is to change land use or reduce fertiliser use, followed by water meadow creation, and atmospheric pollution controls. Finally, a combined approach involving all three strategies is investigated and shown to reduce in-stream nitrate concentrations to those pre-1950s even under climate change. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.