Long-term accumulation and transport of anthropogenic phosphorus in three river basins

Powers, Stephen M. and Bruulsema, Thomas W. and Burt, Tim and Chan, Neng long and Elser, James J. and Haygarth, Philip Matthew and Howden, Nicholas J. K. and Jarvie, Helen P. and Lyu, Yang and Peterson, Heidi M. and Sharpley, Andrew N. and Shen, Jianbo and Worrall, Fred and Zhang, Fusuo (2016) Long-term accumulation and transport of anthropogenic phosphorus in three river basins. Nature Geoscience, 9. pp. 353-356. ISSN 1752-0894

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Abstract

Global food production depends on phosphorus. Phosphorus is broadly applied as fertilizer, but excess phosphorus contributes to eutrophication of surface water bodies and coastal ecosystems1. Here we present an analysis of phosphorus fluxes in three large river basins, including published data on fertilizer, harvested crops, sewage, food waste and river fluxes2, 3, 4. Our analyses reveal that the magnitude of phosphorus accumulation has varied greatly over the past 30–70 years in mixed agricultural–urban landscapes of the Thames Basin, UK, the Yangtze Basin, China, and the rural Maumee Basin, USA. Fluxes of phosphorus in fertilizer, harvested crops, food waste and sewage dominate over the river fluxes. Since the late 1990s, net exports from the Thames and Maumee Basins have exceeded inputs, suggesting net mobilization of the phosphorus pool accumulated in earlier decades. In contrast, the Yangtze Basin has consistently accumulated phosphorus since 1980. Infrastructure modifications such as sewage treatment and dams may explain more recent declines in total phosphorus fluxes from the Thames and Yangtze Rivers3, 4. We conclude that human-dominated river basins may undergo a prolonged but finite accumulation phase when phosphorus inputs exceed agricultural demand, and this accumulated phosphorus may continue to mobilize long after inputs decline.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Nature Geoscience
Additional Information:
© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900
Subjects:
ID Code:
80020
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Jun 2016 08:12
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
25 Sep 2020 02:36