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Hydrochemical processes in lowland rivers: insights from in situ, high-resolution monitoring

Wade, A.J.; Palmer-Felgate, E.J.; Halliday, S.J.; Skeffington, R.A.; Lowenthal, M.; Jarvie, H.P.; Bowes, M.J.; Greenaway, G.M; Haswell, S.J.; Bell, I.M; Joly, E.; Fallatah, A.; Neal, C.; Williams, R.J.; Gozzard, E.; Newman, J.R.. 2012 Hydrochemical processes in lowland rivers: insights from in situ, high-resolution monitoring. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 16 (11). 4323-4342. 10.5194/hess-16-4323-2012

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Abstract/Summary

This paper introduces new insights into the hydrochemical functioning of lowland river systems using fieldbased spectrophotometric and electrode technologies. The streamwater concentrations of nitrogen species and phosphorus fractions were measured at hourly intervals on a continuous basis at two contrasting sites on tributaries of the River Thames – one draining a rural catchment, the River Enborne, and one draining a more urban system, The Cut. The measurements complement those from an existing network of multi-parameter water quality sondes maintained across the Thames catchment and weekly monitoring based on grab samples. The results of the sub-daily monitoring show that streamwater phosphorus concentrations display highly complex dynamics under storm conditions dependent on the antecedent catchment wetness, and that diurnal phosphorus and nitrogen cycles occur under low flow conditions. The diurnal patterns highlight the dominance of sewage inputs in controlling the streamwater phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations at low flows, even at a distance of 7 km from the nearest sewage treatment works in the rural River Enborne. The time of sample collection is important when judging water quality against ecological thresholds or standards. An exhaustion of the supply of phosphorus from diffuse and multiple septic tank sources during storm events was evident and load estimation was not improved by sub-daily monitoring beyond that achieved by daily sampling because of the eventual reduction in the phosphorus mass entering the stream during events. The results highlight the utility of sub-daily water quality measurements and the discussion considers the practicalities and challenges of in situ, sub-daily monitoring.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.5194/hess-16-4323-2012
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 1 - Variability and Change in Water Systems > WA - 1.1 - Continued long term monitoring and integrated observation of freshwater systems
CEH Sections: Acreman
Boorman (to September 2014)
CEH Fellows
ISSN: 1027-5606
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited
Additional Keywords: lowland, river systems, River Thames, catchments
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 20 Dec 2012 15:17 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/20873

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