Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes

Sophie Sherriff, Mairead Shore, Per Erik Mellander

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

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Abstract

Environmental resources are under increasing pressure to simultaneously achieve social, economic and ecological aims. Increasing demand for food production, for example, has expanded and intensified agricultural systems globally. In turn, greater risks of diffuse pollutant delivery (suspended sediment (SS) and Phosphorus (P)) from land to water due to higher stocking densities, fertilisation rates and soil erodibility has been attributed to deterioration of chemical and ecological quality of aquatic ecosystems. Development of sustainable and resilient management strategies for agro-ecosystems must detect and consider the impact of land use disturbance on water quality over time. However, assessment of multiple monitoring sites over a region is challenged by hydro-climatic fluctuations and the propagation of events through catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Simple water quality metrics, for example, flow-weighted pollutant exports have potential to normalise the impact of catchment hydrology and better identify water quality fluctuations due to land use and short-term climate fluctuations. This paper assesses the utility of flow-weighted water quality metrics to evaluate periods and causes of critical pollutant transfer. Sub-hourly water quality (SS and P) and discharge data were collected from hydrometric monitoring stations at the outlets of five small (~10 km2) agricultural catchments in Ireland. Catchments possess contrasting land uses (predominantly grassland or arable) and soil drainage (poorly, moderately or well drained) characteristics. Flow-weighted water quality metrics were calculated and evaluated according to fluctuations in source pressure and rainfall. Flow-weighted water quality metrics successfully identified fluctuations in pollutant export which could be attributed to land use changes through the agricultural calendar, i.e., groundcover fluctuations. In particular, catchments with predominantly poor or moderate soil drainage classes yielded higher flow-weighted SS concentrations as source availability was combined with enhanced transport efficiency of specific pathways. However, discrepancies between monthly rainfall totals and monthly flow-weighted pollutant export are likely due to event scale variability in storm characteristics, lag times and source availability. This methodology was useful to indicate sub-annual water quality trends due to agricultural land use changes in multiple catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Consequently, critical periods of pollutant transfer can be targeted to develop sustainable environmental management strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEGU General Assembly 2016 - Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 17 Apr 201622 Apr 2016
http://www.egu2016.eu/
http://www.egu2016.eu/

Conference

ConferenceEGU General Assembly 2016
Abbreviated titleEGU General Assembly 2016
CountryAustria
CityVienna
Period17/04/1622/04/16
Internet address

Fingerprint

hydrological regime
catchment
water quality
suspended sediment
soil drainage
pollutant
land use
land use change
agricultural catchment
rainfall
trend
stocking density
erodibility
food production
farming system
aquatic ecosystem
environmental management
hydrology
agricultural land
grassland

Cite this

Sherriff, S., Shore, M., & Mellander, P. E. (2016). Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Abstract from EGU General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria.
Sherriff, Sophie ; Shore, Mairead ; Mellander, Per Erik. / Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Abstract from EGU General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria.
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year = "2016",
language = "English",
note = "EGU General Assembly 2016, EGU General Assembly 2016 ; Conference date: 17-04-2016 Through 22-04-2016",
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Sherriff, S, Shore, M & Mellander, PE 2016, 'Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes' EGU General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria, 17/04/16 - 22/04/16, .

Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. / Sherriff, Sophie; Shore, Mairead; Mellander, Per Erik.

2016. Abstract from EGU General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

TY - CONF

T1 - Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes

AU - Sherriff, Sophie

AU - Shore, Mairead

AU - Mellander, Per Erik

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - Environmental resources are under increasing pressure to simultaneously achieve social, economic and ecological aims. Increasing demand for food production, for example, has expanded and intensified agricultural systems globally. In turn, greater risks of diffuse pollutant delivery (suspended sediment (SS) and Phosphorus (P)) from land to water due to higher stocking densities, fertilisation rates and soil erodibility has been attributed to deterioration of chemical and ecological quality of aquatic ecosystems. Development of sustainable and resilient management strategies for agro-ecosystems must detect and consider the impact of land use disturbance on water quality over time. However, assessment of multiple monitoring sites over a region is challenged by hydro-climatic fluctuations and the propagation of events through catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Simple water quality metrics, for example, flow-weighted pollutant exports have potential to normalise the impact of catchment hydrology and better identify water quality fluctuations due to land use and short-term climate fluctuations. This paper assesses the utility of flow-weighted water quality metrics to evaluate periods and causes of critical pollutant transfer. Sub-hourly water quality (SS and P) and discharge data were collected from hydrometric monitoring stations at the outlets of five small (~10 km2) agricultural catchments in Ireland. Catchments possess contrasting land uses (predominantly grassland or arable) and soil drainage (poorly, moderately or well drained) characteristics. Flow-weighted water quality metrics were calculated and evaluated according to fluctuations in source pressure and rainfall. Flow-weighted water quality metrics successfully identified fluctuations in pollutant export which could be attributed to land use changes through the agricultural calendar, i.e., groundcover fluctuations. In particular, catchments with predominantly poor or moderate soil drainage classes yielded higher flow-weighted SS concentrations as source availability was combined with enhanced transport efficiency of specific pathways. However, discrepancies between monthly rainfall totals and monthly flow-weighted pollutant export are likely due to event scale variability in storm characteristics, lag times and source availability. This methodology was useful to indicate sub-annual water quality trends due to agricultural land use changes in multiple catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Consequently, critical periods of pollutant transfer can be targeted to develop sustainable environmental management strategies.

AB - Environmental resources are under increasing pressure to simultaneously achieve social, economic and ecological aims. Increasing demand for food production, for example, has expanded and intensified agricultural systems globally. In turn, greater risks of diffuse pollutant delivery (suspended sediment (SS) and Phosphorus (P)) from land to water due to higher stocking densities, fertilisation rates and soil erodibility has been attributed to deterioration of chemical and ecological quality of aquatic ecosystems. Development of sustainable and resilient management strategies for agro-ecosystems must detect and consider the impact of land use disturbance on water quality over time. However, assessment of multiple monitoring sites over a region is challenged by hydro-climatic fluctuations and the propagation of events through catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Simple water quality metrics, for example, flow-weighted pollutant exports have potential to normalise the impact of catchment hydrology and better identify water quality fluctuations due to land use and short-term climate fluctuations. This paper assesses the utility of flow-weighted water quality metrics to evaluate periods and causes of critical pollutant transfer. Sub-hourly water quality (SS and P) and discharge data were collected from hydrometric monitoring stations at the outlets of five small (~10 km2) agricultural catchments in Ireland. Catchments possess contrasting land uses (predominantly grassland or arable) and soil drainage (poorly, moderately or well drained) characteristics. Flow-weighted water quality metrics were calculated and evaluated according to fluctuations in source pressure and rainfall. Flow-weighted water quality metrics successfully identified fluctuations in pollutant export which could be attributed to land use changes through the agricultural calendar, i.e., groundcover fluctuations. In particular, catchments with predominantly poor or moderate soil drainage classes yielded higher flow-weighted SS concentrations as source availability was combined with enhanced transport efficiency of specific pathways. However, discrepancies between monthly rainfall totals and monthly flow-weighted pollutant export are likely due to event scale variability in storm characteristics, lag times and source availability. This methodology was useful to indicate sub-annual water quality trends due to agricultural land use changes in multiple catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. Consequently, critical periods of pollutant transfer can be targeted to develop sustainable environmental management strategies.

M3 - Abstract

ER -

Sherriff S, Shore M, Mellander PE. Assessing water quality trends in catchments with contrasting hydrological regimes. 2016. Abstract from EGU General Assembly 2016, Vienna, Austria.