Potential impact of climate change on nutrient loads in lithuanian rivers

Arvydas Povilaitis1, Elin Widen-Nilsson2, Diana Sarauskiene3, Jurate Kriauciuniene3, Darius Jakimavicius3, Arunas Bukantis4, Justas Kazys4, Linas Lozys5, Vytautas Kesminas5, Tomas Virbickas5, Virginija Pliuraite5

1 Institute of Water Resources Engineering, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Universiteto st. 10, LT-53361 Kaunas, Lithuania
2 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7050, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
3 Lithuanian Energy Institute, Breslaujos st. 3, LT-44403 Kaunas, Lithuania
4 Vilnius University, Universiteto st. 3, LT-01513 Vilnius, Lithuania
5 Nature Research Centre, Akademijos st. 2, LT-08412 Vilnius, Lithuania


The potential effects of climate change on nutrient (total N and total P) loads in four large-scale (A=2940 6771 km2) river basins in Lithuania were analyzed. The climate impact assessment was based on an ensemble of four (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5) future climate projections, representing the averaged outputs from three (GFDL-CM3, NorESM1-M and HadGEM2-ES) global climate models. For each climate projection, near-future (2016 2035) and distant-future (2081 2100) time periods were compared to the baseline period (1986 2005) to distinguish future changes. The results have shown a decreasing trend in the annual nutrient loads in most of the studied rivers under the projected climate change. Seasonal changes in nutrient loads are also predicted with an increase occurring during the winter months and a fairly high decrease occurring in the spring and early summer months. These changes are consistent with the projected changes in the seasonal stream flow.


climate change; Lithuania; runoff; riverine nutrient loads

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