In Brief: Farms could cause more river pollution as winters get wetter

An engineer at the University of Liverpool is part of a team investigating how climate change and wetter winters could increase pollution in rivers.

Dr Jian Zhou and the lead researchers from the University of Lancaster, the Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of Bangor, and other associated experts are examining how climate change like increasing rainfall will wash more fertiliser off farmland and into rivers.  This could artificially encourage plant growth and lead to more toxic algae, causing pollution.

Dr Zhou is developing models to predict how phosphorus will be transported through the river network, based on the latest forecast of climate change and land use up until 2050.

This will enable the researchers to develop strategies to cope with this problem, while still helping to maintain agricultural production.

Dr Zhou, from the School of Engineering, said: “While Britain’s river quality has improved in recent years, climate change threatens to undo all of this work as more rainfall washes more pollution into our rivers.

“By creating accurate models now we can insure that rivers are controlled and kept clean in the future.”

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