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Climate change will pose challenges to water quality management in the st. Croix River basin

Responses of streamflow and nutrient export to changing climate conditions should be investigated for effective water quality management and pollution control.

Research By:

  • Qichun Yang
  • Xuesong Zhang
  • James E. Almendinger
  • Maoyi Huang
  • Xingyuan Chen
  • Guoyong Leng
  • Xia Li
  • Guoyong Leng
  • Yuyu Zhou
  • Kaiguang Zhao
  • Ghassem R. Asrar

Abstract:

Responses of streamflow and nutrient export to changing climate conditions should be investigated for effective water quality management and pollution control. Using downscaled climate projections and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), we projected future streamflow, sediment export, and riverine nutrient export in the St. Croix River Basin (SCRB) during 2020–2099. Results show substantial increases in riverine water, sediment, and nutrient load under future climate conditions, particularly under the high greenhouse gas emission scenario. Intensified water cycling and enhanced nutrient export will pose challenges to water quality management and affect multiple Best Management Practices (BMPs) efforts, which are aimed at reducing nutrient loads in SCRB. In addition to the physical impacts of climate change on terrestrial hydrology, our analyses demonstrate significant reductions in ET under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Changes in plant physiology induced by climate change may markedly affect water cycling and associated sediment and nutrient export. Results of this study highlight the importance of examining climate change impacts on water and nutrient delivery for effective watershed management.

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Citation:

Yang, Qichun, Zhang, Xuesong, Almendinger, James E., Huang, Maoyi, Chen, Xingyuan, Leng, Guoyong, … Li, Xia. (2019). Climate change will pose challenges to water quality management in the st. Croix River basin. Environmental Pollution251(C). doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2019.04.129