Legacy Contaminantion in UK catchments since the mid-19th century

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Nicholas J K Howden1, Timothy Peter Burt2, Fred Worrall3, Valentina Noacco1 and Thorsten Wagener4, (1)University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8, United Kingdom, (2)University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom, (3)University of Durham, Durham, DH1, United Kingdom, (4)University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
We present data from UK catchments to characterise impacts of industrial and agricultural development of UK river catchments since the mid-19th century. We draw heavily on the world's longest continuous water quality monitoring programme in the Thames River Basin (1868-date) and discuss the implications of both agricultural development, social and industrial change, and the impact of legislation on coupled land and water resource systems. Our review draws on both data and model analysis over a 145-year period and explores how a multitude of inter-linked drivers affects process-function and practical water resource management decision-support.

Our work uncovers key drivers, catchment responses and emergent challenges for process science and regulation, with particular emphasis on the technical challenge for catchment scientists to provide both insight and workable solutions to maintain food and water security in intensively management river basins. We discuss issues of appropriate methods for both data capture and subsequent analyses to support short- and long-term decision making, and particularly considers the importance of advanced techniques to clarify uncertainties in extrapolation of short-term observations to inform long-term goals.

We speculate as to future trajectories of catchment responses to current pressures, and potential pitfalls to immediate concerns that may often be at odds with overall requirements for continued use of natural resources in the future.