The influence of climate change on various eco-systems is undoubtedly enormous. Scientists keep discovering new means by which hotter temperature, or more intense rainfall events, would influence our surrounding environment.
One of these problems was recently identified by a team of soil scientists at University of Lancaster. They established that the risk of river pollution increases drastically as temperatures raise and winters become wetter.
The missing link between climate change and river water pollution was found to be washing of fertilizer from the soil to the water bodies. When rainfall increases, the soil runoff increases too, causing large amounts of fertilizer to end up in the nearby rivers. This is accelerated by high temperatures, which dry the soil and make it more prone to cracks, making it even easier for water to travel.
Alongside with river pollution, the team led by Prof Philip Haygarth, identified another problem, that of land use management. With changing climate, farmers have to adjust their practices in order to make better planning and produce as much agricultural crops as possible.
Under the project called Nutrients in Catchments to 2050, the team will try to make use of the latest technologies and climate prediction models, in order to make the most accurate predictions of nutrient runoff, hence prevent uncontrollable and irreversible pollution, and address the issue of food scarcity before it has actually become impossible to handle.
The study will be conducted by U.K. institutes and experiments will be conducted on U.K. soil, but the results will be highly relevant to pretty much all parts of the world, according to the scientists. Because the issues of pollution and influence of climate change on existing agricultural practices, are becoming more and more pressing, the researchers are convinced that using the best prediction models, and collecting as much accurate data as possible, the results of their work will be rewarding.
Image (c) Graham Turner