External nutrient loading from land, sea and atmosphere to all 656 Swedish coastal water bodies
Identifying the main sources of nutrient loading is a key factor for efficient mitigation of eutrophication. This study has investigated the pathways of external nutrient loading to 656 coastal water bodies along the entire Swedish coastline. The studied water bodies have been delineated to meet requirements in the European Union's Water Framework Directive, and recent status assessments have shown that 57% of them fail to attain good or high ecological status with respect to nutrients. The analysis in the study was performed on data from mass-balance based nutrient budgets computed using the modelling framework Vattenwebb. The external nutrient contribution from the sea to the water bodies was highly variable, ranging from about 1% to nearly 100%, but the median contribution was >99% of the total external loading regarding both nitrogen and phosphorus. External loading from the atmosphere and local catchment area played a minor role in general. However, 45 coastal water bodies received >25% of the external nitrogen and phosphorus from their catchments. Loading from land typically peaked in April following ice-break and snow melting and was comparatively low during summer. The results indicate that for many eutrophicated Swedish coastal water bodies, nutrient abatement is likely to be optimally effective when potential measures in all of the catchment area of the concerned sea basin are considered. Local-scale mitigation in single water bodies will likely be locally effective only in the small proportion of areas where water and thereby also nutrient input from the catchment is high compared to the influx from the sea. Future studies should include nutrient reduction scenarios in order to refine these conclusions and to identify relevant spatial scales for coastal eutrophication mitigation measures from a water body perspective.
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