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Propagation of water pollution uncertainty and risk from the subsurface to the surface water system of a catchment:
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology (INK).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology (INK).
2009 (English)In: Journal of Hydrology, ISSN 0022-1694, E-ISSN 1879-2707, Vol. 377, no 3-4, 434-444 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates the propagation of quantifiable probability and quantification uncertainty of water pollution from local pollutant sources at and below the land surface, through the groundwater system, to downstream surface water recipients. Methodologically, the study shows how the risk and uncertainty of surface water pollution within a catchment may be assessed by a combined methodology of a Lagrangian stochastic advective-reactive modelling approach, which accounts for the quantifiable pollutant transport randomness, and a scenario analysis approach, which accounts for different quantification uncertainties. The results show that, in general, unambiguous risk assessment requires at least a reliable order-of-magnitude quantification of the prevailing relation between the average rate of physical pollutant transport from source to recipient and the average rate of pollutant attenuation. If this average relation can be reliably estimated to fall within two identified, relatively wide open value ranges, the assessment of pollution risk to surface waters from localised sources at or below the soil surface may be unambiguous even under otherwise large quantification uncertainty. For a relatively narrow, closed value range of this average rate relation, however, risk assessment must either rely on conservative assumptions, or else be based on a more detailed and resource demanding quantification of pollutant transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 377, no 3-4, 434-444 p.
Keyword [en]
water pollution, risk assessment, contaminant transport, stochastic modelling
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-31156DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.09.001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-31156DiVA: diva2:275593
Available from: 2009-12-07 Created: 2009-11-06 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Quantifying pollutant spreading and the risk of water pollution in hydrological catchments: A solute travel time-based scenario approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Quantifying pollutant spreading and the risk of water pollution in hydrological catchments: A solute travel time-based scenario approach
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The research presented in the thesis develops an approach for the estimation and mapping of pollutant spreading in catchments and the associated uncertainty and risk of pollution. The first step in the approach is the quantification and mapping of statistical and geographical distributions of advective solute travel times from pollutant input locations to downstream recipients. In the second step the travel time distributions are used to quantify and map the spreading of specific pollutants and the related risk of water pollution. In both steps, random variability of transport properties and processes is accounted for within a probabilistic framework, while different scenarios are used to account for statistically unquantifiable uncertainty about system characteristics, processes and future developments. This scenario approach enables a transparent analysis of uncertainty effects that is relatively easy to interpret. It also helps identify conservative assumptions and pollutant situations for which further investigations are most needed in order to reduce the uncertainty. The results for different investigated scenarios can further be used to assess the total risk to exceed given water quality standards downstream of pollutant sources.

Specific thesis results show that underestimation of pollutant transport variability, and in particular of those transport pathways with much shorter than average travel times, may lead to substantial underestimation of pollutant spreading in catchment areas. By contrast, variations in pollutant attenuation rate generally lead to lower estimated spreading than do constant attenuation conditions. A scenario of constant attenuation rate and high travel time variability, with a large fraction of relatively short travel times, therefore appears to be a reasonable conservative scenario to use when information is lacking for more precise determination of actual transport and attenuation conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 2011. 35 p.
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 28
Keyword
water pollution, catchment, pollution risk, scenario analysis, uncertainty
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63465 (URN)978-91-7447-207-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-11-21, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-10-30 Created: 2011-10-19 Last updated: 2011-11-15Bibliographically approved

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