Impacts of climate and land use changes on the water quality of a small Mediterranean catchment with intensive viticulture.Environ Pollut. 2017 May; 224:454-465.EP
Studies that address the potential effects of climate and land use changes on surface water quality are scarce in the Mediterranean region. In the present work, the impacts of climate and land use changes on nutrient and copper exports from a humid Mediterranean catchment (São Lourenço) were evaluated using the SWAT model. SWAT reproduced reasonably well total nitrogen (TN), phosphorus (TP) and copper (Cu) exports in São Lourenço, providing an adequate baseline scenario as well as a suitable model parameterization for assessing the impacts of climate and land use changes under the A1B and B1 emission scenarios for the end of the 21st century (2071-2100). Land use changes scenarios were generated along the same storylines as climate change scenarios to assess the combined effects of the two stressors. Climate changes itself led to a decline in annual TN and TP exports under both emission scenarios mostly due to a decrease in runoff and erosion induced by a reduction in rainfall, but it hardly affected Cu exports largely due to its strong immobilization in soils. Land use changes per se resulted in an increase in streamflow, but the changes in water quality varied markedly according to the scenarios. A substantial decrease in TN, TP and Cu exports was observed under scenario A1B, due to a reduction in vineyard areas. Under scenario B1, however, TP exports decreased much less while TN exports hardly changed, reflecting differences in the preferential transport pathways of these compounds. Cu exports also remained the same, as no changes occurred in the vineyard areas. The combination of climate and land use change scenarios revealed additive impacts on the exports of all three contaminants, emphasizing the importance of integrated approaches to define adaptive land management practices that can ensure the future sustainability of Mediterranean water resources.