Climate change impacts on contaminant loads delivered with sediment yields from different land use types in a Carpathian basin

Ewa Szalińska, Gabriela Zemełka, Małgorzata Kryłów, Paulina Orlińska-Woźniak, Ewa Jakusik, Paweł Wilk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Soil runoff and sediment transport are considered as an important vector for particle-bound contaminant transfer from source to receiving waters. Under changing climate conditions and rapid basin development, identification of sediment origins is critical for planning further action to reduce erosion effects, and further pollution to surface waters. The goal of this study was to distinguish sediment sources in a Carpathian basin (Wolnica River, southern Poland) and to perform source-oriented contaminant load estimations. Sediment yields (SYLD) and land use specific sediment yields (LUSY) were modeled with the use of the Macromodel DNS/SWAT (Discharge-Nutrients-Sea/Soil and Water Assessment Tool). Sorting of sediment sources was performed by the fingerprinting method using variability of the geochemical composition of soils (Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu, Mn, Ni, Fe, Hg, total N and P, Σ16 PAHs, and 137Cs) of four land use (LU) types: arable lands (A), grasslands (G), residential areas (R), and forests (F). Statistical analysis revealed six metals (Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu, Ni, and Hg) as fingerprint properties providing the best source discrimination in this basin. The contribution of particular land use origin assessed with the use of the mixing model varied in the range of 20–30%. Finally, estimation of land use specific contaminant loads in suspended sediments was performed as a result of a modeling and sediment fingerprinting combination. The final estimates revealed yearly LUSY values varying between 716 t/y for A, 12 t/y for F, and metal loads from 31 kg/y for Zn to values below 100 g/y for Cd and Hg. Long-term predictions (2046–2055) of the metal loads revealed an increase by 75% under the combined RCP 8.5 climate change and land use scenarios. These findings are of great value for land management in the Carpathian basins, especially with regards to the predicted increase of forest cover which significantly alters contaminant signals conveyed through the system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142898
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021


  • Fingerprinting method
  • Macromodel DNS/SWAT
  • Metals
  • Sediment production
  • SYLD
  • Variant scenarios


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