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Title (Primary) Driver detection of water quality trends in three large European river basins
Author Diamantini, E.; Lutz, S.; Mallucci, S.; Majone, B.; Merz, R.; Bellin, A.;
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Year 2018
Department CATHYD;
Volume 612
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T34;
Keywords Water quality trends; Water quality drivers; European river basins; Spearman rank correlation; Principal Component Analysis
UFZ wide themes RU2;

This study analyses how indicators of water quality (thirteen physico-chemical variables) and drivers of change (i.e., monthly aggregated air temperature and streamflow, population density, and percentage of agricultural land use) coevolve in three large European river basins (i.e., Adige, Ebro, Sava) with different climatic, soil and water use conditions. Spearman rank correlation, Principal Component Analysis, and Mann-Kendall trend tests were applied to long-term time series of water quality data during the period 1990–2015 in order to investigate the relationships between water quality parameters and the main factors controlling them. Results show that air temperature, considered as a proxy of climatic change, has a significant impact, in particular in the Adige and Ebro: positive trends of water temperature and negative of dissolved oxygen are correlated with upward trends of air temperatures. The aquatic ecosystems of these rivers are, therefore, experiencing a reduction in oxygen, which may exacerbate in the future given the projected further increase in temperature. Furthermore, monthly streamflow has been shown to reduce in the Ebro, thereby reducing the beneficial effect of dilution, which appears evident from the observed upward patterns of chloride concentrations and electrical conductivity. Upward trends of chloride and biological oxygen demand in the Adige and Sava, and of phosphate in the Adige appears to be related to increasing human population density, whereas phosphates in the Sava and biological oxygen demand in the Ebro are highly correlated with agricultural land use, considered as a proxy of the impact of agricultural practises.

The present study shows the complex relationships between drivers and observed changes in water quality parameters. Such analysis can represent, complementary to a deep knowledge of the investigated systems, a reliable tool for decision makers in river basin planning by providing an overview of the potential impacts on the aquatic ecosystem of the three basins.

ID 19567
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Diamantini, E., Lutz, S., Mallucci, S., Majone, B., Merz, R., Bellin, A. (2018):
Driver detection of water quality trends in three large European river basins
Sci. Total Environ. 612 , 49 - 62