A key question related to climate change projections is how will aquatic systems respond to changes in variables such as temperature and precipitation? This thesis uses GWLF, a simple catchment scale model to explore potential impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality.
River discharge and nutrient loads were modelled for several warmer world scenarios. For one catchment in New York, USA changes in annual dissolved phosphorus loads decreased along with annual streamflow, and particulate phosphorus loads increased for a single future climate scenario. For the Galten catchment of Lake Mälaren, Sweden, the spring melt peak observed historically was reduced for six future scenarios. Peak runoff and dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen load maxima occurred in winter rather than early spring.
A synthesis of model results for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) loadings for five European catchments showed changes in the timing and magnitude of peak DIN load for several future scenarios. In northern Europe, changes were largely due to increased winter streamflow and reduced snow pack and spring melt runoff. In western Europe, DIN loads increased in winter or early spring due to increased precipitation.
The biological response for a warmer future scenario was modelled for the Galten basin of Lake Mälaren using GWLF coupled to a lake phytoplankton model and a physical lake model. An increase in cyanobacteria biomass accompanied by a decline in diatom biomass resulted from changes in the timing of nutrient export from the catchment. The projected increase in lake temperature favored an overall increase in total phytoplankton biomass.
Lastly, a method based on hourly measurements of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) fluorescence provides the appropriate data for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) model parameterization and may also be used for surveillance of organic matter inputs to lakes.