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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Direct and indirect effects of climate change on herbicide leaching - A regional scale assessment in Sweden

Steffens, Karin Anna; Jarvis, Nicholas; Lewan, Elisabet; Lindström, Bodil; Kreuger, Jenny; Kjellström, Erik; Moeys, Julien


Climate change is not only likely to improve conditions for crop production in Sweden, but also to increase weed pressure and the need for herbicides. This study aimed at assessing and contrasting the direct and indirect effects of climate change on herbicide leaching to groundwater in a major crop production region in south-west Sweden with the help of the regional pesticide fate and transport model MACRO-SE. We simulated 37 out of the 41 herbicides that are currently approved for use in Sweden on-eight major crop types for the 24 most common soil types in the region. The results were aggregated accounting for the fractional coverage of the crop and the area sprayed with a particular herbicide. For simulations of the future, we used projections of five different climate models as model driving data and assessed three different future scenarios: (A) only changes in climate, (B) changes in climate and land-use (altered crop distribution), and (C) changes in climate, land-use, and an increase in herbicide use. The model successfully distinguished between leachable and non-leachable compounds (88% correctly classified) in a qualitative comparison against regional-scale monitoring data. Leaching was dominated by only a few herbicides and crops under current climate and agronomic conditions. The model simulations suggest that the direct effects of an increase in temperature, which enhances degradation, and precipitation which promotes leaching, cancel each other at a regional scale, resulting ifs a slight decrease in leachate concentrations in a future climate. However, the area at risk of groundwater contamination doubled when indirect effects of changes in land-use and herbicide use, were considered. We therefore concluded that it is important to consider the indirect effects of climate change alongside the direct effects and that effective mitigation strategies and strict regulation are required to secure future (drinking) water resources. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Regional scale; Pesticide modelling; Climate change; Direct effects; Indirect effects; MACRO

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2015, Volume: 514, pages: 239-249