Publication Details

Reference Category Journals
DOI / URL link
Creative Commons Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Strong hydroclimatic controls on vulnerability to subsurface nitrate contamination across Europe
Author Kumar, R.; Heße, F.; Rao, P.S.C.; Musolff, A.; Jawitz, J.W.; Sarrazin, F.; Samaniego, L.; Fleckenstein, J.H.; Rakovec, O.; Thober, S.; Attinger, S.;
Journal Nature Communications
Year 2020
Department CHS; HDG;
Volume 11
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T34;
Data links
Abstract Subsurface contamination due to excessive nutrient surpluses is a persistent and widespread problem in agricultural areas across Europe. The vulnerability of a particular location to pollution from reactive solutes, such as nitrate, is determined by the interplay between hydrologic transport and biogeochemical transformations. Current studies on the controls of subsurface vulnerability do not consider the transient behaviour of transport dynamics in the root zone. Here, using state-of-the-art hydrologic simulations driven by observed hydroclimatic forcing, we demonstrate the strong spatiotemporal heterogeneity of hydrologic transport dynamics and reveal that these dynamics are primarily controlled by the hydroclimatic gradient of the aridity index across Europe. Contrasting the space-time dynamics of transport times with reactive timescales of denitrification in soil indicate that ~75% of the cultivated areas across Europe are potentially vulnerable to nitrate leaching for at least one-third of the year. We find that neglecting the transient nature of transport and reaction timescale results in a great underestimation of the extent of vulnerable regions by almost 50%. Therefore, future vulnerability and risk assessment studies must account for the transient behaviour of transport and biogeochemical transformation processes.
ID 23863
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Kumar, R., Heße, F., Rao, P.S.C., Musolff, A., Jawitz, J.W., Sarrazin, F., Samaniego, L., Fleckenstein, J.H., Rakovec, O., Thober, S., Attinger, S. (2020):
Strong hydroclimatic controls on vulnerability to subsurface nitrate contamination across Europe
Nat. Commun. 11 , art. 6302