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Diffuse hydrological mass transport through catchments: scenario analysis of coupled physical and biogeochemical uncertainty effects
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
2011 (English)In: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, ISSN 1027-5606, E-ISSN 1607-7938, Vol. 15, no 10, 3195-3206 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper quantifies and maps the effects of coupled physical and biogeochemical variability on diffuse hydrological mass transport through and from catchments. It further develops a scenario analysis approach and investigates its applicability for handling uncertainties about both physical and biogeochemical variability and their different possible cross-correlation. The approach enables identification of conservative assumptions, uncertainty ranges, as well as pollutant/nutrient release locations and situations for which further investigations are most needed in order to reduce the most important uncertainty effects. The present scenario results provide different statistical and geographic distributions of advective travel times for diffuse hydrological mass transport. The geographic mapping can be used to identify potential hotspot areas with large mass loading to downstream surface and coastal waters, as well as their opposite, potential lowest-impact areas within the catchment. Results for alternative travel time distributions show that neglect or underestimation of the physical advection variability, and in particular of those transport pathways with much shorter than average advective solute travel times, can lead to substantial underestimation of pollutant and nutrient loads to downstream surface and coastal waters. This is particularly true for relatively high catchment-characteristic product of average attenuation rate and average advective travel time, for which mass delivery would be near zero under assumed transport homogeneity but can be orders of magnitude higher for variable transport conditions. A scenario of high advection variability, with a significant fraction of relatively short travel times, combined with a relevant average biogeochemical mass attenuation rate, emerges consistently from the present results as a generally reasonable, conservative assumption for estimating maximum diffuse mass loading, when the prevailing physical and biogeochemical variability and cross-correlation are uncertain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 15, no 10, 3195-3206 p.
Keyword [en]
mass transport, catchment, uncertainty
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63419DOI: 10.5194/hess-15-3195-2011ISI: 000296745600014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-63419DiVA: diva2:448816
Available from: 2011-10-18 Created: 2011-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically 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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