Magnitudes and sources of dissolved inorganic phosphorus inputs to surface fresh waters and the coastal zone: A new global model

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Abstract

[1] As a limiting nutrient in aquatic systems, phosphorus (P) plays an important role in controlling freshwater and coastal primary productivity and ecosystem dynamics, increasing frequency and severity of harmful and nuisance algae blooms and hypoxia, as well as contributing to loss of biodiversity. Although dissolved inorganic P (DIP) often constitutes a relatively small fraction of the total P pool in aquatic systems, its bioavailability makes it an important determinant of ecosystem function. Here we describe, apply, evaluate, and interpret an enhanced version of the Global Nutrient Export from Watersheds (NEWS)–DIP model: NEWS-DIP–Half Degree (NEWS-DIP-HD). Improvements to NEWS-DIP-HD over the original NEWS DIP model include (1) the preservation of spatial resolution of input data sets at the 0.5 degree level and (2) explicit downstream routing of water and DIP from half-degree cell to half-degree cell using a global flow-direction representation. NEWS-DIP explains 78% and 62% of the variability in per-basin DIP export (DIP load) for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and global stations, respectively, similar to the original NEWS-DIP model and somewhat more than other global models of DIP loading and export. NEWS-DIP-HD output suggests that hot spots for DIP loading tend to occur in urban centers, with the highest per-area rate of DIP loading predicted for the half-degree grid cell containing Tokyo (6366 kg P km−2 yr−1). Furthermore, cities with populations >100,000 accounted for 35% of global surface water DIP loading while covering less than 2% of global land surface area. NEWS-DIP-HD also indicates that humans supply more DIP to surface waters than natural weathering over the majority (53%) of the Earth's land surface, with a much larger area dominated by DIP point sources than nonpoint sources (52% versus 1% of the global land surface, respectively). NEWS-DIP-HD also suggests that while humans had increased DIP input to surface waters more than fourfold globally by the year 2000, human activities such as dam construction and consumptive water use have somewhat moderated the effect of humans on P transport by preventing (conservatively) 0.35 Tg P yr−1 (∼20% of P inputs to surface waters) from reaching coastal zones globally.

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