We have just published in Nature Communications a sobering reminder about the prospects of phosphorus transfer from land to water in the future under climate change. Mary Ockenden, my Post Doctoral research fellow, skillfully led the paper and the abstract of the paper follows, with a link to the open access version of the paper here and a PDF here.
Phosphorus losses from land to water will be impacted by climate change
and land management for food production, with detrimental impacts on
aquatic ecosystems. Here we use a unique combination of methods to
evaluate the impact of projected climate change on future phosphorus
transfers, and to assess what scale of agricultural change would be
needed to mitigate these transfers. We combine novel high-frequency
phosphorus flux data from three representative catchments across the UK,
a new high-spatial resolution climate model, uncertainty estimates from
an ensemble of future climate simulations, two phosphorus transfer
models of contrasting complexity and a simplified representation of the
potential intensification of agriculture based on expert elicitation
from land managers. We show that the effect of climate change on average
winter phosphorus loads (predicted increase up to 30% by 2050s) will be
limited only by large-scale agricultural changes (e.g., 20–80%
reduction in phosphorus inputs).
National BBC Radio 4 attention on Farming Today as well as other channels.
This work reflects the importance of the long term data from the National Defra Demonstration Test Catchments and the NERC NUTCAT projects, all coming together. The more you think about thsi work and its implications, the more serious are the implications. This is just the beginning......