Main content area

The Impact of Climate Change on Metal Transport in a Lowland Catchment

Wijngaard, René R., van der Perk, Marcel, van der Grift, Bas, de Nijs, Ton C. M., Bierkens, Marc F. P.
Water, air, and soil pollution 2017 v.228 no.3 pp. 107
autumn, base flow, cadmium, climate, climate change, heavy metals, hydrologic models, leaching, runoff, soil, summer, surface water, watersheds, zinc, Netherlands
This study investigates the impact of future climate change on heavy metal (i.e., Cd and Zn) transport from soils to surface waters in a contaminated lowland catchment. The WALRUS hydrological model is employed in a semi-distributed manner to simulate current and future hydrological fluxes in the Dommel catchment in the Netherlands. The model is forced with climate change projections and the simulated fluxes are used as input to a metal transport model that simulates heavy metal concentrations and loads in quickflow and baseflow pathways. Metal transport is simulated under baseline climate (“2000–2010”) and future climate (“2090–2099”) conditions including scenarios for no climate change and climate change. The outcomes show an increase in Cd and Zn loads and the mean flux-weighted Cd and Zn concentrations in the discharged runoff, which is attributed to breakthrough of heavy metals from the soil system. Due to climate change, runoff enhances and leaching is accelerated, resulting in enhanced Cd and Zn loads. Mean flux-weighted concentrations in the discharged runoff increase during early summer and decrease during late summer and early autumn under the most extreme scenario of climate change. The results of this study provide improved understanding on the processes responsible for future changes in heavy metal contamination in lowland catchments.