Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Large Anthropogenic Nutrient And Pollutant Loads To The Sea From Small Unmonitored Near-coastal Catchment Areas

Date:
November 4, 2008
Source:
Stockholm University
Summary:
A new study shows that the waterborne nutrient and pollutant loads from land to the sea may be larger from small near-coastal areas, which are left without systematic environmental monitoring of their coastal loads, than from the large, systematically monitored main rivers.

A new study(1) by Destouni and her research group at Stockholm University (SU) shows that the waterborne nutrient and pollutant loads from land to the sea may be larger from small near-coastal areas, which are left without systematic environmental monitoring of their coastal loads, than from the large, systematically monitored main rivers.

Related Articles


Taking Sweden and the whole Baltic Sea region as examples, the study shows also that the reported Swedish loads of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Baltic Sea are significantly smaller than expected from strong correlations between a country’s nutrient loads and its population, area and economic activity (GDP per capita) within the Baltic Sea drainage basin (BSDB), which are found for all other Baltic Sea countries.

Erroneous calculation of the nutrient loads from the relatively large Swedish unmonitored near-coastal areas can explain this significant difference between the reported and the expected nutrient loads from Sweden to the Baltic Sea.

The near-coastal areas that are left without systematic environmental monitoring may be small, but they extend along most of the coastlines and often have a large population proportion. For the whole BSDB, for instance, these areas cover 13% of the total area and 24% of the total population of the BSDB, according to an earlier study(2) by the same research group. For Sweden, the corresponding fractions are even larger: 55% of the Swedish population in the 20% unmonitored near-coastal catchment area of Sweden(2). The new study(1) shows that, with such a large population proportion, the concentrations of, for instance, nitrogen, phosphorus and organic pollutants in the water flow that are generated within these small near-coastal catchment areas may be much larger that in the systematically monitored main rivers.

The mass load to the sea from a catchment area is the product of the area’s water flow to the sea and the mass concentration in that water flow. The latter may be large in near-coastal catchment areas, both due to a large population and due to increasing seawater intrusion into the near-coastal groundwater, which changes chemical conditions and may re-mobilise pollutants that were previously adsorbed on the solid particles of the groundwater system.

The unmonitored near-coastal catchment areas are not just forgotten when, for instance, the Swedish nutrient loads to the Baltic Sea are estimated. The data gaps are bridged with the help of computer model calculations. However, because the model results cannot be checked against representative field data for the unmonitored areas, they may be significantly wrong.

A series of earlier and parallel, detailed process studies from the SU research group have shown: 1) that near-coastal catchment areas have particularly complex water flow conditions, which are not only possibly, but even probably erroneously estimated where some necessary data is missing(3-4); and 2) that the subsurface water systems (soil, groundwater, sediments) of catchment areas contain large legacies and long-term memories of the cumulative anthropogenic inputs of nutrients and pollutants in the catchments over at least the last decades(5-7), which can now be continuously transported to the sea, without detection, along the long coastlines of unmonitored near-coastal catchment areas.

The new study synthesizes main implications of these earlier and parallel studies and suggests a concrete, improved methodology for interpreting available field data and estimating the mass loading to the sea from unmonitored near-coastal catchment areas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stockholm University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Destouni et al. Small unmonitored near-coastal catchment areas yielding large mass loading to the sea. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2008; 22 (4): GB4003 DOI: 10.1029/2008GB003287
  2. Hannerz et al. Spatial Characterization of the Baltic Sea Drainage Basin and Its Unmonitored Catchments. Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 2006; 35 (5): 214 DOI: 10.1579/05-A-022R.1
  3. Destouni et al. Freshwater flows to the sea: Spatial variability, statistics and scale dependence along coastlines. Geophysical Research Letters, 2008; 35 (18): L18401 DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035064
  4. Jarsjo et al. Spatial distribution of unmonitored inland water discharges to the sea. Journal of Hydrology, 2008; 348 (1-2): 59 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2007.09.052
  5. Darracq et al. Long-term development of phosphorus and nitrogen loads through the subsurface and surface water systems of drainage basins. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2008; 22 (3): GB3022 DOI: 10.1029/2007GB003022
  6. Lindgren et al. Inland Subsurface Water System Role for Coastal Nitrogen Load Dynamics and Abatement Responses. Environmental Science & Technology, 2007; 41 (7): 2159 DOI: 10.1021/es062535j
  7. Destouni G. The subsurface water system role for surface and coastal water pollution. Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology, 7(2), 157-164, 2007

Cite This Page:

Stockholm University. "Large Anthropogenic Nutrient And Pollutant Loads To The Sea From Small Unmonitored Near-coastal Catchment Areas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095841.htm>.
Stockholm University. (2008, November 4). Large Anthropogenic Nutrient And Pollutant Loads To The Sea From Small Unmonitored Near-coastal Catchment Areas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095841.htm
Stockholm University. "Large Anthropogenic Nutrient And Pollutant Loads To The Sea From Small Unmonitored Near-coastal Catchment Areas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095841.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) Surfers in Russia's biggest port city on the Pacific Ocean, Vladivostok, were enjoying the sport on Saturday despite below freezing temperatures and icy cold waters. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins