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Climate change impact on the leaching of a heavy metal contamination in a small lowland catchment

Lookup NU author(s): Michelle Van Vliet, Dr Stephen Blenkinsop


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The objective of this study was to assess the potential effects of climate change on the transport of a pre-existing spatially extensive trace metal contamination to a small lowland catchment in south of the Netherlands. The area surrounding the Keersop has been contaminated with heavy metals by the atmospheric emissions of four zinc ore smelters. This heavy metal contamination, with Cd and Zn for example, has accumulated in the topsoil and leaches towards surface water system, especially during high groundwater levels and high discharge rates. Simulated projections of future climate predict increased precipitation in winter, less precipitation in summer, and higher air temperatures throughout the year. These climate change scenarios projected lower groundwater levels and lower discharge rates. As a result of lower groundwater levels, transport of Cd and Zn towards surface water is also projected to decrease under future climate. These results indicate a positive effect of climate change on a limited aspect of surface water quality.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Visser A, Kroes J, van Vliet M, Blenkinsop S, Broers HP

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World: Proceedings of the 7th International Groundwater Quality Conference

Year of Conference: 2010