Rapid increase in accumulation of phosphorus (P) relative to nitrogen (N) has been observed in human-impacted regions, but the reasons are largely unknown. We developed an Integrated Nutrient Flow Analysis (INFA) model in order to assess the changes in nutrient flows of the Chaohu Lake basin from 1978 to 2015. Results show that the increase in total N input is slower than that of P (3.5-fold versus 4.2-fold) during 1978–2015, while total N loss increases much faster than that of P (3.1-fold versus 2.3-fold). We found a decline trend in the N:P ratio of nutrient input and accumulation since the mid-1990s. The decline in N:P ratio of nutrient loss to waterbodies in the basin is correlated (p < 0.05) with TN:TP of water concentration in Chaohu Lake, which may be related to the frequent algal blooms in the P-limited lake by supplying more P than N. Using an extended STIRPAT model, we found that nutrient use efficiency, urban rate, diet choice and population are key factors driving the change in nutrient flows, which contribute over 90% to the total change. This study confirms that human activities decrease N:P in regional environment and demonstrates the importance of P management to balance nutrient for improving water quality. The method in this study has a wide application for many other mixed land use regions to address nutrient flows imbalance problems and to explore nutrient management options.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Apr 20, 2018
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