Nutrient export by rivers to the coastal waters of China: management strategies and future trends

Hong Juan Qu, C. Kroeze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


We analyzed past and future trends in river export of dissolved nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to the coastal waters of China, for a selection of rivers, as calculated by the Global NEWS models (Nutrient Export from WaterSheds). Over the period 1970–2000, river export of dissolved nutrients increased considerably, especially of dissolved inorganic N and P. Anthropogenic sources of N and P in rivers have become increasingly important, in particular N and P losses from agriculture. We tested the sensitivity of calculated nutrient export by rivers to changes in selected controlling factors. The calculated export of dissolved N and P is sensitive to changes in hydrology, synthetic fertilizer use and manure excretion in river basins. Changes in sewage inputs have large effects on dissolved inorganic P export. We analyzed future trends up to 2050 for several scenarios to illustrate the combined effects of selected management options. In the Base Scenario, the N and P export by the selected rivers increases considerably between 2000 and 2030. The increase continues from 2030 to 2050 except for DIP. Strategies to reduce N and P export by rivers include changes in agriculture, sewage and energy use. Changes in agriculture have the largest impact on future dissolved N and P river export to the coastal waters of China. The effectiveness of reduction strategies differs between nutrient forms and basins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-167
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • spatially explicit
  • global-model
  • changjiang river
  • yellow-river
  • nitrogen
  • zone
  • phosphorus
  • system
  • ecosystem
  • impact

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