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The impacts of historical agricultural landuse on the nitrate concentration trend in the major aquifers in England and Wales

Wang, Lei; Stuart, Marianne; Lewis, Milly; Ward, Robert. 2015 The impacts of historical agricultural landuse on the nitrate concentration trend in the major aquifers in England and Wales. [Speech] In: 17th IWA International Conference on Diffuse Pollution and Eutrophication, Berlin, Germany, 13–18 Sept 2015. British Geological Survey. (Unpublished)

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Abstract/Summary

Agricultural land is the major source of nitrates in UK groundwater. Due to the long time-lag in the groundwater system, it could take decades for leached nitrate from the soil to discharge into freshwaters. This paper presents an approach to modelling groundwater nitrate at the national scale, to simulate the impacts of historical nitrate loading from agricultural land on the evolution of groundwater nitrate concentrations. The sensitivity of parameters was analysed using Monte Carlo simulations. The model was calibrated using national nitrate monitoring data. Time series of annual average nitrate concentrations along with annual spatially distributed nitrate concentration maps from 1925 to 2150 were generated for 28 selected aquifer zones in England and Wales. The results show that 16 aquifer zones have an increasing trend in nitrate concentration, while average nitrate concentrations in the remaining 12 are declining. These results help decision makers to understand how the historical nitrate loading from agricultural land affects the evolution of groundwater quality due to the nitrate time lag in the groundwater system. This approach will be particularly valuable to evaluate the long-term impact and timescale of land management scenarios and programmes of measures introduced to help deliver water quality compliance.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Speech)
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Diffuse pollution, Nitrate pollution
Date made live: 22 Dec 2015 12:37 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/512504

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