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Beyond equilibrium : re-evaluating physical modelling of fluvial systems to represent climate changes
The interactions between water, sediment and biology in fluvial systems are complex and driven by multiple forcing mechanisms across a range of spatial and temporal scales. In a changing climate, some meteorological drivers are expected to become more extreme with, for example, more prolonged droughts or more frequent flooding. Such environmental changes will potentially have significant consequences for the human populations and ecosystems that are dependent on riverscapes, but our understanding of fluvial system response to external drivers remains incomplete. As a consequence, many of the predictions of the effects of climate change have a large uncertainty that hampers effective management of fluvial environments. Amongst the array of methodological approaches available to scientists and engineers charged with improving that understanding, is physical modelling. Here, we review the role of physical modelling for understanding both biotic and abiotic processes and their interactions in fluvial systems. The approaches currently employed for scaling and representing fluvial processes in physical models are explored, from 1:1 experiments that reproduce processes at real-time or time scales of 10.-1 to 10.0 years, to analogue models that compress spatial scales to simulate processes over time scales exceeding 10.2 to 10.3 years. An important gap in existing capabilities identified in this study is the representation of fluvial systems over time scales relevant for managing the immediate impacts of global climatic change; 10.1 to 10.2 years, the representation of variable forcing (e.g. storms), and the representation of biological processes. Research to fill this knowledge gap is proposed, including examples of how the time scale of study in directly scaled models could be extended and the time scale of landscape models could be compressed in the future, through the use of lightweight sediments, and innovative approaches for representing vegetation and biostabilisation in fluvial environments at condensed time scales, such as small-scale vegetation, plastic plants and polymers. It is argued that by improving physical modelling capabilities and coupling physical and numerical models, it should be possible to improve understanding of the complex interactions and processes induced by variable forcing within fluvial systems over a broader range of time scales. This will enable policymakers and environmental managers to help reduce and mitigate the risks associated with the impacts of climate change in rivers.
The relative contribution of peat compaction and oxidation to subsidence in built-up areas in the Rhine-Meuse delta, The Netherlands
An increasing number of people lives in coastal zones with a subsurface consisting of heterogenic soft-soil sequences. Many of these sequences contain substantial amounts of peat. While population growth and urbanization continues in coastal zones, they are threatened by global sea-level rise and land subsidence. Peat compaction and oxidation, caused by loading and drainage, are important contributors to land subsidence, and hence relative sea-level rise, in peat-rich coastal zones. Especially built-up areas, having densely-spaced urban assets, are heavily impacted by land subsidence, in terms of livelihoods and damage-related costs. Yet, built-up areas have been largely avoided in peat compaction and oxidation field studies. Consequently, essential information on the relative contributions of both processes to total subsidence and underlying mechanisms,which is required for developing effective land use planning strategies, is lacking. Therefore, we quantified subsidence due to peat compaction and oxidation in built-up areas in the Rhine-Meuse delta, The Netherlands, using lithological borehole data and measurements of dry bulk density, organic matter, and CO2 respiration. We reconstructed subsidence over the last 1000 years of up to ~4 m, and recent subsidence rates of up to ~140 mm·yr−1 averaged over an 11-year time span. The amount and rate of subsidence due to peat compaction and oxidation is variable in time and space, depending on the Holocene sequence composition, overburden thickness, loading time, organic-matter content, and groundwater-table depth. In our study area, the potential for future subsidence due to peat compaction and oxidation is substantial, especially where the peat layer occurs at shallow depth and is relatively uncompacted. We expect this is the case for many peat-rich coastal zones worldwide. We propose to use subsurface-based spatial planning, using specific subsurface information mentioned above, to inform land use planners about the most optimal building sites in organo-clastic coastal zones.
The challenges of assessing the effectiveness of biodiversity-related development aid
Official Development Assistance is a major funding source for biodiversity conservation in developing countries, and it is therefore important to understand the effectiveness of biodiversity aid. However, three challenges hamper the analysis of how effectively biodiversity-related development aid (biodiversity aid) contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use. First, few indicators measure biodiversity aspects at country level in a consistent and comparable way. Second, biodiversity aid reporting methods do not reveal the exact funding amount for projects’ biodiversity component. Third, changes in biodiversity status are empirically and conceptually difficult to attribute to aid activities. Based on a theoretical elaboration of these challenges, we argue that for a better assessment of how biodiversity aid contributes to conserving biodiversity and to reducing biodiversity loss, three improvements are required: a more frequent and more consistent assessment of the biodiversity status across countries, more exact quantification of biodiversity aid, and a more detailed understanding about biodiversity loss and the role biodiversity aid plays. These improvements will allow for more reliable aid-effectiveness analyses, which will, in turn, enable better informed aid-allocation decisions to be made.
Paste 2018 : proceedings of the 21st International seminar on paste and thickened tailings (11-13 April 2018, Perth)
Shear settling in laminar open channel flow : analytical solution, measurements and numerical simulation
In beaching of tailings, sand and clays may segregate. In laminar flow this is due to shear settling. First implementations of shear settling in numerical flow models are seen, offering unprecedented potential to conduct tailings management studies. In order to validate numerical codes, reference materials are necessary. For laminar flow, there is a small set of flume tests available from an earlier study. An analytical solution for transient sand concentration profile development with distance in laminar open channel flow appeared recently. This analytical method is more complete than an analytical model developed earlier at the author’s institute. Data and analytical solutions are analysed and applied to serve for the validation of numerical flow simulation of beaching in tailings storage facilities. Fair agreement is observed between measurements and the analytical method. Moreover, fair agreement is obtained between an earlier produced computational outcome of the numerical model Delft3D-slurry and analytical solution. This contributes to building confidence in this model as an aid in supporting tailings deposition management.
Sediment geochemistry of the urban Lake Paulo Gorski
The objective of this study was to evaluate the concentration and distribution of heavy metals in the sediments of Paulo Gorski Lake, as well as the metals’ bioavailability and potential ecological risk, and to define the anthropogenic and natural heavy metal contributions to the lake. The chemical elements calcium (Ca), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), sodium (Na), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) were quantified by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry with two extraction methods to quantify the bioavailable and non-bioavailable fractions. The data were evaluated using multivariate statistics and sediment quality indices. All sediment collection points (S1, S2, S3, S4 and S5) are different in terms of the concentration of heavy metals, except for S4 and S5, which were statistically equal. The bioavailable fraction of the elements in the sediment follows the sequence Pb>Cu>Mn>Zn>Ni>Cr>phosphorus (P) for all points. The elements Co, Cr, Pb, and Zn showed moderate to considerable contamination at all points. Only points S3 and S5 had moderate ecological risk. Urbanization has been affecting Paulo Gorski Lake via the input of chemical elements, especially Co and Pb. The points most affected by heavy metal contamination are S3 and S5 when the sedimentological sensitivity factor is considered. The lake has high hydrodynamics, causing some of the contaminants that enter the system to leave it, leading to potential negative impacts downstream.
Methods and tools supporting urban resilience planning : experiences from Cork, Ireland
To prevent flood disasters, policymakers call for resilient cities which are better able to cope with flood hazards. However, actual adoption of resilience measures in urban planning is still limited, partly because it is not sufficiently clear how and to what extent resilience should and can be enhanced. To develop resilience strategies, information on the current resilience and on the effects of measures should be available. Since cities are complex systems, an assessment of resilience requires the input of different actors. To obtain and combine this input, a comprehensive approach which brings together many actors is required. Furthermore, resilience must be integrated in planning frameworks in order to enhance adoption by city policy makers. Tools which support and structure the contribution of different disciplines and actors will help to obtain information on the current resilience and to develop a shared vision on measures to enhance urban resilience. We illustrate our view with an example on Cork, Ireland.
Behaviour of subtidal sandbars in response to nourishments
The behaviour of subtidal sandbars can be strongly influenced by the introduction of sand nourishments in the coastal system. This study focuses on the impact of nourishments on subtidal bar behaviour at spatiotemporal scales beyond a single nourishment project. It aims to determine the long-term behaviour of subtidal sandbars along an entire coastal cell, taking into account both the unnourished and nourished regime, and covering various types of nourishments. The analysis is based on over 50 years of sandbar evolution along the Delfland coast, a 17-km long coastal cell at the Dutch North Sea coastline protected by groynes and maintained with frequent sand nourishments. Observations reveal clearly different sandbar behaviour during the unnourished (first 20 years) and nourished periods of the dataset. Introduction of the first beach nourishments (nourished sand primarily placed at the subaerial beach) was found to stimulate sandbar development along previously unbarred sections of the coast. Shoreface nourishments (nourished sand placed at the seaward face of the pre-existing subtidal sandbar) tended to migrate shoreward rapidly at a rate of 20 to 60 m/year at this coast, thereby forcing the pre-existing sandbar to weld to the dry beach. An abrupt transition of sandbar dynamics was observed following a major nourishment operation (∼37.5Mm3 of nourished sand) that covered the entire coastal cell. A new, shallow sandbar formed with a degree of alongshore variability that was unprecedented at the Delfland coast over the full study period. These results imply that individual nourishments can influence the formation and migration of individual sandbars, while continued nourishments can fundamentally change long-term sandbar dynamics along an entire coastal cell.
Variation in the availability of metals in surface water, an evaluation based on the dissolved, the freely dissolved and Biotic Ligand Model bioavailable concentration
In this study the spatial distribution of dissolved metals in surface water is studied at nine locations in Lake Ketelmeer (the Netherlands). The measured dissolved metal concentrations are combined with the local water quality parameters for salinity, pH, alkalinity and DOC to calculate a FIAM Free Ion Activity Model (FIAM) and the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) based bioavailable metal concentration. The BLM model is used for Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn and the FIAM model for Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn. To be able to compare the dissolved metal concentration with the FIAM or BLM based bioavailable metal concentration, an accepted reference standard can be used which is also corrected for the bioavailable concentration. Here the Water Framework Directive (WFD) Annual Average Quality Standard (AA-QS) is used, corrected for the FIAM and BLM based bioavailable metal concentration under reference conditions. This yielded a site specific Risk Characterization Ratio (RCR-FIAM/RCR-BLM). The FIAM model shows an exceedance of the site specific AA-QS for Cu (RCR-FIAM of 1.8) and Pb (RCRFIAM of 1.5) in the northern middle part of the lake. This is due to a lower pH in this part of the lake. The BLM model was inconclusive with regard to spatial trends for Cu and Ni due to out of boundary conditions for the model. For locations where the BLM model was within the model boundary conditions, the RCR-BLM could be as high as 7.5 for Cu and 3.2 for Ni. The main water quality parameter causing the high RCR-BLM was the low DOC concentration. To establish if the locally increased RCR for Cu and Pb (FIAM) or Cu and Ni (BLM) poses an ecotoxicological risk to organisms the multi substances Potentially Affected Fraction (ms-PAF) model is used. The FIAM based ms-PAF indicates that the northern middle part of the lake has the highest chronic metal exposure risk, with an ms-PAF of 27%. The BLM based ms-PAF has a maximum of 45%, but lacks a spatial trend due to the missing BLM corrected Cu and Ni concentrations for some locations.
A model to assess microphytobenthic primary production in tidal systems using satellite remote sensing
Quantifying spatial variability in intertidal benthic productivity is necessary to guide management of estuaries and to understand estuarine ecological processes, including the amount of benthic organic carbon available for grazing, burial and transport to the pelagic zone. We developed a model to assess microphytobenthic (MPB) primary production using (1) remotely sensed information on MPB biomass and remotely sensed information on sediment mud content, (2) surface irradiance and ambient temperature (both from local meteorological observations), (3) directly-measured photosynthetic parameters and (4) a tidal model. MPB biomass was estimated using the normalized-difference vegetation index (NDVI) and mud content was predicted using surface reflectance in the blue and near-infrared, both from Landsat 8 satellite imagery. The photosynthetic capacity (maximum photosynthesis rate normalized to MPB chl-a) was estimated from ambient temperature, while photosynthetic efficiency and the light saturation parameter were derived from in situ fluorometry-based production measurements (PAM). The influence of tides (submergence by turbid water) on MPB production was accounted for in the model. The method was validated on several locations in two temperate tidal basins in the Netherlands (Oosterschelde and Westerschelde). Model based production rates (mg C m-2 h-1) matched well with an independent set of in situ (PAM) measurement based production rates. The relationship between photosynthetic capacity and temperature shows considerable variation and may be improved by using sediment surface temperature instead of ambient temperature. A sensitivity analysis revealed that emersion duration and mud content determine most of the variability in MPB production. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to derive a satellite remote sensing based overview of average hourly and daily MPB primary production rates at the macro scale. As the proposed model is generic, the model can be applied to other tidal systems to assess spatial variability in MPB primary production at the macro scale after calibration at the site of interest. Model calibration, results and possible applications for regular monitoring of MPB production are discussed.