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Modelling the effects of climate and land-use change on the hydrochemistry and ecology of the River Wye (Wales)

Bussi, Gianbattista, Whitehead, Paul G., Gutiérrez-Cánovas, Cayetano, Ledesma, José L.J., Ormerod, Steve J., Couture, Raoul-Marie
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.627 pp. 733-743
European Union, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic organisms, biodiversity conservation, case studies, climate, climate change, eutrophication, fluid mechanics, geophysics, greenhouse gases, highlands, hydrochemistry, land use change, models, rivers, water quality, water supply, watersheds
Interactions between climate change and land use change might have substantial effects on aquatic ecosystems, but are still poorly understood. Using the Welsh River Wye as a case study, we linked models of water quality (Integrated Catchment - INCA) and climate (GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and IPSL - Institut Pierre Simon Laplace) under greenhouse gas scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) to drive a bespoke ecosystem model that simulated the responses of aquatic organisms. The potential effects of economic and social development were also investigated using scenarios from the EU MARS project (Managing Aquatic Ecosystems and Water Resources under Multiple Stress). Longitudinal position along the river mediated response to increasing anthropogenic pressures. Upland locations appeared particularly sensitive to nutrient enrichment or potential re-acidification compared to lowland environments which are already eutrophic. These results can guide attempts to mitigate future impacts and reiterate the need for sensitive land management in upland, temperate environments which are likely to become increasingly important to water supply and biodiversity conservation as the effects of climate change intensify.