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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Feb 1;613-614:1510-1526. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.07.218. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

Mapping eutrophication risk from climate change: Future phosphorus concentrations in English rivers.

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Environment Agency, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol BS1 5AH, UK. Electronic address:
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK.
Environment Agency, Horizon House, Deanery Road, Bristol BS1 5AH, UK.
Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure UK Limited, Cannon Court, Abbey Lawn, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 5DE, UK.


Climate change is expected to increase eutrophication risk in rivers yet few studies identify the timescale or spatial extent of such impacts. Phosphorus concentration, considered the primary driver of eutrophication risk in English rivers, may increase through reduced dilution particularly if river flows are lower in summer. Detailed models can indicate change in catchment phosphorus concentrations but targeted support for mitigation measures requires a national scale evaluation of risk. In this study, a load apportionment model is used to describe the current relationship between flow and total reactive phosphorus (TRP) at 115 river sites across England. These relationships are used to estimate TRP concentrations for the 2050s under 11 climate change driven scenarios of future river flows and under scenarios of both current and higher levels of sewage treatment. National maps of change indicate a small but inconsistent increase in annual average TRP concentrations with a greater change in summer. Reducing the TRP concentration of final sewage effluent to 0.5mg/L P for all upstream sewage treatment works was inadequate to meet existing P standards required through the EU Water Framework Directive, indicating that more needs to be done, including efforts to reduce diffuse pollution.


Climate change adaptation; Future-river flows; Orthophosphate; Water Framework Directive

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