Integrated climate-chemical indicators of diffuse pollution from land to water

P.-E. Mellander, P. Jordan, B Bechmann, O. Fovet, M. Shore, N.T. McDonald, C. Gascuel-Odoux

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Management of agricultural diffuse pollution to water remains a challenge and is influenced by the complex interactions of rainfall-runoff pathways, soil and nutrient management, agricultural landscape heterogeneity and biogeochemical cycling in receiving water bodies. Amplified cycles of weather can also influence nutrient loss to water although they are less considered in policy reviews. Here, we present the development of climate-chemical indicators of diffuse pollution in highly monitored catchments in Western Europe. Specifically, we investigated the influences and relationships between weather processes amplified by the North Atlantic Oscillation during a sharp upward trend (2010–2016) and the patterns of diffuse nitrate and phosphorus pollution in rivers. On an annual scale, we found correlations between local catchment-scale nutrient concentrations in rivers and the influence of larger, oceanic-scale climate patterns defined by the intensity of the North Atlantic Oscillation. These influences were catchment-specific showing positive, negative or no correlation according to a typology. Upward trends in these decadal oscillations may override positive benefits of local management in some years or indicate greater benefits in other years. Developing integrated climate- chemical indicators into catchment monitoring indicators will provide a new and important contribution to water quality management objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number944
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date17 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished online - 17 Jan 2018


  • Diffuse pollution
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Agriculture
  • Catchments
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen


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