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

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


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The Keersop catchment (43 km(2)) in the south of The Netherlands has been contaminated by the emissions of four zinc ore smelters. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of future projected climate change on the hydrology and the leaching of heavy metals (i.e. Cd and Zn) in the catchment. The numerical, quasi-2D, unsaturated zone Soil Water Atmosphere Plant model was used with 100-year simulated daily time series of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration. The time series are representative of stationary climates for the periods 1961-1990 ("baseline") and 2071-2100 ("future"). The time series of future climate were obtained by downscaling the results of eight regional climate model (RCM) experiments, driven by the SRES A2 emissions scenario, using change factors for a series of climate statistics and applying them to stochastic weather generator models. The time series are characterized by increased precipitation in winter, less precipitation in summer, and higher air temperatures (between 2 degrees C and 5 degrees C) throughout the year. Future climate scenarios project higher evapotranspiration rates, more irrigation, less drainage, lower discharge rates and lower groundwater levels, due to increased evapotranspiration and a slowing down of the groundwater system. As a result, lower concentrations of Cd and Zn in surface water are projected. The reduced leaching of heavy metals, due to drying of the catchment, showed a positive impact on a limited aspect of surface water quality. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

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

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology

Year: 2012

Volume: 127

Issue: 1-4

Pages: 47-64

Print publication date: 01/01/2012

ISSN (print): 0169-7722

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6009

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.04.007

Notes: Schirmer, M., Hoehn, E., Vogt, T. eds. Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World. Eawag, Zurich, Switzerland. 13-18 June 2010.


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