From the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, European soils are threatened by diffuse pollution from modern agriculture and increased atmospheric deposition. The vulnerability of the soil to diffuse pollution depends on land cover, topsoil features, net precipitation, aquifer type, groundwater recharge and age. The elaboration of the various elements was realized by applying Geographical Information Systems (GISs). Precipitation and the actual evapotranspiration were estimated using meteorological data. The resulting net precipitation is discharged by groundwater recharge and surfacial runoff, with the division of net precipitation in groundwater recharge and surfacial flow following from climate and soil features. The average groundwater age was based on aquifer depth, porosity and the recharge. The vulnerabilities of the soil and groundwater were estimated by establishing a ranking of the combined risks of a diffuse contamination for the topsoil and for groundwater in aquifers. Nitrogen compounds in soils are caused mainly by manuring and fertilization of agricultural lands and atmospheric deposition. The varying doses of fertilizer and manure and the atmospheric deposition of nitrogen compounds were assessed for an actual situation. Only part of the applied doses leached into the soil. The leaching of nitrate to a level of 1 m below land surface was estimated by applying empirical relations derived from the northwest European experience, based on land use, features of the topsoil and net precipitation. The subsequent leaching to deeper strata and a further denitrification also depend on groundwater recharge and aquifer type. The average nitrate concentration in the various aquifers was assessed by estimating the nitrogen doses to European soils in the course of time in combination with the groundwater age. Results, attained using GIS and presented in the form of maps, show the leaching of nitrate concentrations to a level of 1 m below land surface and also the average concentration in the upper aquifer system.
Vulnerability to diffuse pollution and average nitrate contamination of european soils and groundwater
C. R. Meinardi, A. H. W. Beusen, M. J. S. Bollen, O. Klepper, W. J. Willems; Vulnerability to diffuse pollution and average nitrate contamination of european soils and groundwater. Water Sci Technol 1 April 1995; 31 (8): 159–165. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.1995.0288
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