Hydrology-phosphorus interactions under changing climate and land-use: overcoming uncertainties and challenges for prediction to 2050 (Nutcat 2050)

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Lancaster Environment Centre

Abstract

The proposal aims to advance our understanding and predictions of interactions between hydrology and nutrient transfers in headwater catchments in the UK, under climate and land use change scenarios to 2050, using the very latest data and modeling approaches available for the UK. The study catchments will be the UK Demonstration Test Catchments (DTCs) and the aims will be achieved through: (1) using existing climate model scenarios to set baseline outcomes for change; (2) localized DTC-focused stakeholder elicitation workshops to develop scenarios for land use changes in response to the climate scenarios; (3) simulating current hydrological events and future changes in catchment hydrology in response to changing climate/land use; (4) new understanding of phosphorus (P) behaviour in extreme hydrological conditions, using experiments and newly available high resolution observations from the DTCs to inform model development; (5) improved prediction (with uncertainty) of future P behaviour scenarios arising from the new understanding of hydrology-P interactions; (6) attempting to scale up the information from headwater-catchment to full basin scale, and; (7) compare model performance with existing P models and assess uncertainties involved in this process, with further iterations of stakeholder consultation. We shall focus on the 10 km2 scale because this matches the size of the nine study catchments of the Defra DTCs (from the Eden, Wensum and Avon DTCs), which are our chosen study areas; this scale also represents the ideal size for studying processes along the mobilisation-delivery-in-stream impact 'transfer continuum'. These integrated studies will produce a prototype quantitative assessment and prediction of nutrient fluxes.

Our hypothesis is that increased seasonal variability in storm patterns (more extreme events, long drought periods), combined with interactions with land use change, will greatly alter future dissolved and particulate P fluxes across the land-water continuum and subsequent retention in-stream and downstream eutrophication risk. We shall extend our initial 'Systems Evidence Based Assessment Methodology (SEBAM)' study that focused on mobilization of P at the farm scale (recently published by the team), into a prototype modeling framework that includes source, mobilization, delivery and in-stream processing functions for predicting P fluxes from UK headwater catchments, and considers land use change, and use this framework (combined with knowledge from other projects involving the team) to scale up our information to define the potential for predicting other nutrient behaviours at the full basin scale.

We will capitalize on the new and unique high quality, high temporal resolution P monitoring data that is starting to emerge from the nine Defra DTC sub-catchments. A unique and exciting aspect of the work will be the use of expert elicitation procedures that incorporate fuzzy uncertainty-based analyses to develop tailored land use scenarios (building on the UK Land Use Foresight Initiative) for each of the unique landscape typologies for the 9 DTC focus catchments. Combining this information with the latest climate scenarios for the UK, we will include new developments in high-resolution numerical weather prediction. We shall then use these scenarios to study the impacts of climate and land use change to 2050 on hydrology, P mobilization, delivery and in-stream processing, informed from new empirical learning and experimentation. Model outputs will then be validated for other catchments in the wider UK (Conwy, Ribble, Tarland) using data from linked projects and our partners. Throughout the project, the outcomes will be tested with stakeholders. This will deliver a locally owned knowledge-based framework for understanding and managing future nutrient transfers from rural catchment systems, and some exciting new science on P transfers.

Planned Impact

There are many groups of potential beneficiaries of the proposed research, these include:

- Policymakers (Defra in particular, Scottish and Welsh Governments, EU): who are responsible for setting policies for sustainable rural land and water use now and the future, this project will directly support policy development;
- Water Companies in the UK (private and public): who are increasingly using catchment based approaches to manage water quality, need the approaches and data from this project to manage the risks from future climate and land use change on their water resources;
- Private enterprises and businesses (e.g. environmental consultancies): require information from this project about how to link climate and hydro-biogeochemical models and the relative performance of alternative modeling approaches to deliver projects to a broad range of clients;
- Food chain suppliers and supermarkets: require better information that this project will provide on how future climate scenarios will affect sustainable land use;
- Farming advisors (including Rivers Trusts) and extension officers: will benefit directly from the approaches, data and knowledge generated from this project on how rural land management influences P transfers from land to water now and in the future; and
- Farmers and land managers: require greater knowledge on possible future changes in climate and how this will affect their operations and losses of valuable P stocks from their soils.

These stakeholders will benefit because the work aims to improve our understanding of nutrient transfers from land to water and we shall provide new methods of predicting (and thus mitigating) what may happen in future events. They will also benefit from improved the knowledge of uncertainty and this will help them make more robust judgments about future management scenarios. All of these will contribute towards a reduction of nutrient pollution that contributes towards eutrophication of rivers, lakes and estuaries and, potentially, an increase in biodiversity.

Publications

10 25 50

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Doody D (2016) Optimizing land use for the delivery of catchment ecosystem services in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

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Dupas R (2016) Uncertainty assessment of a dominant-process catchment model of dissolved phosphorus transfer in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions

 
Description This project has now finished.
Stakeholder workshops in the three National Demonstration Test Catchments (Eden (Cumbria), Avon (Hampshire) and Wensum (Norfolk)) established that changes in farming and land management have been, and are likely to be in the future, more due to economics, policy and legislation, and technology than weather-related reasons Questionnaires on land use and land management, completed by workshop participants, indicated that most people thought land use for biofuels would increase and the use of cover crops would increase. The results of the questionnaires contributed to decisions on what and how to include land use and land management changes in water quality modelling.
A high spatial resolution (1.5km) climate model for Northern England has been run and indicates that winter storms are likely to increase in both frequency and intensity. Analysis of UKCP09 weather generator data for the 2050s suggests that the duration of dry periods will increase, with more, warmer dry periods of up to an extreme maximum of 90 days duration in S England. The information about drying periods has been used to plan and execute soil tests on drying/rewetting. The phosphorus which was leached from soil following rewetting, increased with the length of drying time, up to a maximum of around 10 days, after which there was little change, or a reduction in the phosphorus leached.
Analysis of the high resolution Eden DTC nutrient data has established that more than 90% of the suspended sediment and 80% of the Total Phosphorus load is transferred in 10% of the time, when discharge is high, which emphasises the importance of the large rainfall events. A simple linear model of rainfall-driven total phosphorus transfers in the Newby Beck catchment (Eden, Cumbria) estimated that, with the projected increase in winter rainfall (+8% to +17% by 2050s), annual rainfall-event phosphorus loads might increase by an average of 9%.
Preliminary analysis of EA flow and chemistry data for stations on the River Eden suggests significant downstream retention of phosphorus.
A simple lattice Boltzmann methodology has been developed to study the transport of sediments and solutes by advection and diffusion in water. A methodology is being developed to couple the Lattice-Boltzmann model (LBM) to the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT, a hydrological and water quality model), to simulate the in-stream phosphorus cycle. A non-dimensional approach that solves the advection-dispersion equation was shown to be stable and mass conservative.
A method for uncertainty analysis has been extended under this project for use with water quality data and multi-model comparison. Process-based water quality models (SWAT and HYPE) , have been set up for the monitored sub-catchments within the three National Demonstration Test Catchments (Eden, Wensum, Avon), using national datasets for soils, land use and weather, and calibrated using observed data. A simple Data-Based Mechanistic (DBM) model for rainfall-runoff and for rainfall-Phosphorus load has also been applied in the three catchments.
Water quality predictions have been made for future conditions, using projected climate data from UKCP09 and models HYPE and DBM. Both models indicate that increase in winter rainfall will result in increased phosphorus (P) export, with up to 30% increase by the 2050s.
An increase in agricultural intensity (as suggested by stakeholders) was represented in HYPE by an increase in P inputs. By running a range of P input changes (-80% to +80%), the model suggests that only large scale agricultural changes (e.g. a 20% - 80% reduction in P inputs) will limit the projected impacts of climate change (increased winter rainfall) on P exports from these catchments.
Exploitation Route Future predictions of phosphorus transfer will allow farmers and land managers to explore options for land management, which seek to balance agricultural production and sustainable water management. Our findings may ultimately feed into agricultural policy.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

URL http://nutcat2050.org.uk/
 
Description The media coverage raised awareness of the impacts of heavy rainfall and flooding, with greater acceptance of the need for adaptation in farming and living practices. The stakeholder workshops (in all three National Demonstration Test Catchment regions), included farmers, farm managers and farm advisors, as well as project members. the workshops raised awareness of the possible climate change scenarios in different parts of the UK, and allowed discussion and two-way feedback on the relationships between farm management practices, water quality and running a profitable farm business. Part of the science approach in NUTCAT-2050 was presented at an Exeter Initiative on Science and Technology conference on food security, by P Falloon: http://www.exetersciencepark.co.uk/component/rseventspro/event/17-exist-conference-2014?Itemid=events The talk raised business, academic and other users awareness of the relationship between soil, agriculture, climate, land use and water quality, and discussed how state of the art climate projections being used in the project might affect these issues.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description PI Haygarth contribution to Defra Soil Consultation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description PI Haygarth membership of Defra Policy Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description EdenDTC Funding
Amount £320,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 04/2019
 
Title Extension of Lattice Boltzmann methodology to study the transport of sediments and solutes by advection and diffusion in water'. 
Description Development of the Lattice Boltzmann method to solve the fractional advection-diffusion equation (FADE), an efficient model with similar accuracy to other numerical methods 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This opens a wide range of application of the FADE in hydrology and environmental engineering 
 
Title Extension of uncertainty analysis (limits of acceptability approach) to water quality data 
Description The Generalised Likelihood Uncertainty Estimation (GLUE) approach has been extended for use with water quality data by defining limits of acceptability for the model output 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The method allows a multi-model comparison of phosphorus transfer, including the uncertainties due to the model parameters and data input 
 
Title LBM-SWAT model for water quality 
Description The Lattice-Boltzmann model (LBM) has been modified to solve the advection-dispersion equation to water quality together with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) output data. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The method allows further study of in-stream phosphorus cycle 
 
Title Fortnightly nutrient sampling at six sites upstream and downstream of Morland outlet 
Description Fortnightly sampling of phosphorus, nitrogen and chloride in streamwater at all joining tributaries in Morland catchment and downstream to River Lyvennet. Used alongside discharge data this will allow determination of loads from different parts of the catchment, and also in-stream retention of phosphorus. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Collection has only just started (beginning of hydrological year 2014/15), no results or impacts yet 
 
Title Stream discharge at six sites upstream and downstream of Morland outlet 
Description Water level is being monitored at six sites at 15 minute resolution, with stage-discharge relationships being built up over a range of water levels 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact
 
Description Collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University 
Organisation Anglia Ruskin University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We share the progress and results of the project with the partners
Collaborator Contribution The partner provides many years of experience in monitoring and assessment of soil erosion and runoff in England and Wales
Impact No outputs yet, although joint publications are expected
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Avon DTC 
Organisation Rothamsted Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We share progress and results of the project with the partners
Collaborator Contribution The partner shares experience of high frequency monitoring of nutrients in the Avon DTC Project, and shares the data with NUTCAT2050. Avon DTC also allows NUTCAT 2050 to access the stakeholder network which has been developed.
Impact No outputs yet, although joint publications are expected
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Eden Demonstration Test Catchment Project 
Organisation EdenDTC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We share knowledge on catchment function, share results from additional phosphorus sampling and stream gauging
Collaborator Contribution Eden DTC shares all data from their catchment monitoring: weather data, stream discharge and water quality data
Impact .
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Eden Rivers Trust 
Organisation Eden Rivers Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We provide evidence of diffuse pollution which Eden Rivers Trust can use to help farmers understand how to plan mitigation measures
Collaborator Contribution Eden Rivers Trust has helped with gaining land access permissions for installing and maintaining equipment, and has been a vital link in contacting farmers for stakeholder workshops
Impact Stakeholder workshop in Morland, Cumbria, jointly organised by NUTCAT and Eden Rivers Trust
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with James Hutton Institute 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We share the progress and results of the research with the partners
Collaborator Contribution The partner provides guidance and expertise on stakeholder engagement and catchment hydro-biogeochemical functioning, and resources in the form of catchment monitoring data
Impact No outcomes yet, although joint publications are expected
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Wensum DTC 
Organisation University of East Anglia
Department School of Environmental Sciences UEA
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We share progress and results of the project with the partners
Collaborator Contribution The partner provides experience of high-frequency monitoring in an intensive arable catchment, and shares the Wensum DTC data with NUTCAT2050 in order to work together in a coordinated manner to help understand hydrological processes, phosphorus mobility and to influence policy
Impact No outputs yet, although joint publications expected
Start Year 2013
 
Description Avon DTC Stakeholder workshop, with NUTCAT session on land use/management changes under climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 50 stakeholders attended a NUTCAT presentation on historic and future changes in climate in the Avon, and participated in discussion on possible land use and land management changes in the Avon in the future. Following the discussion, participants completed a questionnaire.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://nutcat2050.org.uk/news
 
Description Biology Experience Day for local schools at Lancaster University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 80 pupils (year 12 Biology Students) came to LEC and each group of approximately 10 students received a 10 minute 'hands-on' demonstration on our research on ' Diffuse Pollution in Agriculture' and one on 'Nutrient Cycling in ecosystems'.

Feedback from students and teachers was very positive, showing that the year 12 Biology Students were deeply inspired by the research activities developed in LEC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/supporting-schools-and-community/biology-experience-days/
 
Description Eden farmers Stakeholder workshop - has the weather changed the way you farm? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 33 farmers and stakeholders attended a talk on historic weather changes in the Eden catchment, and provided feedback and discussion on several specific questions relating to weather-induced and non-weather-induced changes in farming in Cumbria.

The workshop helped to build trust between the farming community and the scientists with sharing of knowledge and learning on both sides.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://nutcat2050.org.uk/news
 
Description Flooding, sediment and nutrient transport on BBC and ITV television and radio 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Following unprecedented rainfall in NW England, Phil Haygarth was filmed by television and radio, including ITV Border and BBC 'Inside Out', and spoke about flooding and sediment and nutrient loss:
30.11.15 ITV Border
07.12.15 BBC NWT
08.12.15 BBC Radio 5 Live
04.01.16 ITV Border
11.01.16 BBC Radio 4 'Today'
13.01.16 BBC 1 'Inside Out'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description Geography Experience Day for local schools at Lancaster University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 60 pupils (Year 12) attended for an Experience Day. Groups of 30 attended a 90 minute laboratory workshop investigating runoff, sediment and nutrient loss from soil boxes with different 'land use', with associated examples of ecological diversity from each 'land use' type
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/supporting-schools-and-community/
 
Description NUTCAT2050 on BBC Science News and other media channels 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Following a press release on phosphorus transfer in storms and the likely increase in phosphorus transfer under climate change, Prof Phil Haygarth was contacted by Victoria Gill of BBC. Victoria filmed Phil in the Eden catchment talking about water quality in rivers under climate change. The film appeared on BBC Science News on 24 March 2014.

The BBC article resulted in enquiries from other media channels and Prof Phil Haygarth, Prof Paul Withers and Dr Bob Evans all gave radio interviews, including Radio 4 Farming Today, Radio Lancashire, Radio Cumbria.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26682750
 
Description NUTCAT2050 project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact A project website was launched in November 2013, and updated regularly after that date. The website received an increased number of hits following the press release in March 2014

.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://nutcat2050.org.uk/
 
Description USA Phosphorus Research Cordination Meeting Attendance and Conribution 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first part of the week was a scientist meeting in Washington DC, followed by a platform presentatin by the greoup to stakeholders invited from Washington DC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://phosphorusalliance.org/files/2017/05/NSF_Report_Weintraub.pdf
 
Description Workshop with stakeholders (Wensum DTC) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 30 farmers and stakeholders from around the Wensum catchment attended a workshop including presentation of historic climate trends in the Wensum area and discussion of likely future land use and land management changes in the Wensum catchment. At the end, participants completed a questionnaire, which contributed to decisions on how to include land use and land management change in numerical modelling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://nutcat2050.org.uk/