Assessing the role of forests in mitigating eutrophication downstream of pasture during spring snowmelt

Masaaki Chiwa, Sachiko Inoue, Naoaki Tashiro, Daisuke Ohgi, Yoshitoshi Uehara, Hideaki Shibata, Atsushi Kume

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Little research has examined whether forests reduce stream water eutrophication in agricultural areas during spring snowmelt periods. This study evaluated the role of forests in ameliorating deteriorated stream water quality in agricultural areas, including pasture, during snowmelt periods. Temporal variation in stream water quality at a mixed land-use basin (565ha: pasture 13%, forestry 87%), northern Japan, was monitored for 7years. Synoptic stream water sampling was also conducted at 16 sites across a wide range of forest and agricultural areas in a basin (18.3km2) in spring, summer and fall. Atmospheric nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) deposition were measured for 4years. The results showed that concentration pulses of nitrate, organic N and total P in stream water were observed when discharge increased during spring snowmelt. Their concentrations were high when silicate concentrations were low, suggesting surface water exported from pasture largely contributed to stream water pollution during snowmelt. Atmospheric N and P deposition (4.1kgNha-1y-1; 0.09kgPha-1y-1, respectively) was too low to affect the background concentrations of N and P in streams from forested areas. Reduction of eutrophication caused by nutrients from pasture was mainly due to dilution by water containing low concentrations of N and P exported from forested areas, whereas in-stream reduction was not a dominant process. Results indicate that forests have a limited capacity to reduce the concentration pulses of N and P in stream water during snowmelt in this study basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-623
Number of pages9
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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