Water status - pollution from land to freshwater and marine environment

Studies of hydrochemical transport have been conducted at the research department of SMHI since 1985. The main focus for the research is currently on modelling nitrogen and phosphorus, the key substances causing eutrophication of fresh water bodies and marine environments.

The aquatic environment in lakes, watercourses and in the water around the Swedish coastline is to a large extent dependent on processes on land, not only in Sweden but also in neighboring countries.

An important environmental problem in Sweden and its surrounding seas is eutrophication, caused by excess emissions of nutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus. Two important sources of these nutrients are waste water treatment plants and runoff water from agricultural land. The amount of water discharging through watercourses is also important as it is affecting currents and salinity in the sea.

We at the hydrological research unit at SMHI develop methods and tools to quantify and map sinks and sources of nutrients and the pathways of water and nutrient from land to the sea.

Modeling for better knowledge and decisions

Introducing measures to improve water quality is often costly why it is rational make well informed decisions based on high quality decision support. Such information may contain analyses of what effect various measures have on water quality both locally and downstream in the system.

Calculations of water flow and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) transport and concentrations using the HYPE model are performed for the whole country of Sweden (450 000 km2) divided into more than 37 000 subbasins (S-HYPE).

The results are mainly used in the implementation of the EU Water Framework in Sweden. The results are also available for the general public at the SMHI Waterweb.

The hydrological research and development at SMHI is funded through from many different sources including national bodies and the EU. The overall objective of our work is to develop tools (also available at SMHI WaterWeb, see figure 1) to be used in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive.

Analysverktyg Vattenwebben
Figure 1. Example of analysis tools available at SMHI Waterweb.
Enlarge Image

The Baltic Sea in a future climate

Nutrients causing eutrophication are transported to the Baltic Sea via watercourses in all countries surrounding the sea. The contributions of the different sources of emissions vary between these countries.

To obtain a comprehensive view of source apportionment and to quantify water flow and transport of nutrients to the Baltic Sea, a model was set up for the entire Baltic Sea drainage basin. The model is also used to study how the transport of nutrients to the sea will change in a future climate.

hav horisont


Meier, M.H.E., Andersson, H.C., Arheimer, B., Donnelly, C., Eilola, K.,  Gustafsson, B.G.,  Kotwicki, L., Neset, T., Niiranen, S., Piwowarczyk, J., Savchuk, O.P., Schenk, F.,   Węsławski, J.M., and Zorita, E. 2014. Ensemble Modeling of the Baltic Sea Ecosystem to Provide Scenarios for Management. AMBIO 43(1): 37-48. Doi: 10.1007/s13280-013-0475-6

Meier, M. H. E., Andersson, H. C., Arheimer, B., Blenckner, T., Chubarenko, B., Donnelly, C., Eilola, K., Gustafsson, B. G., Hansson, A., Havenhand, J., Höglund, A., Kuznetsov, I., MacKenzie, B. R., Müller-Karulis, B., Neumann, T., Niiranen, S., Piwowarczyk, J., Raudsepp, U., Reckermann, M., Ruoho-Airola, T., Savchuk, O. P., Schenk, F., Schimanke, S., Väli, G., Weslawski, J.-M., and Zorita, E. 2012. Comparing reconstructed past variations and future projections of the Baltic Sea ecosystem — first results from multi-model ensemble simulations. Environ. Res. Lett. 7 034005 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/3/034005

Arheimer, B., Dahné J., and Donnelly, C. 2012. Climate change impact on riverine nutrient load and land-based remedial measures of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. Ambio 41 (6):600-612.

Arheimer, B., Dahné, J., Donnelly, C., Lindström, G., Strömqvist, J. 2012.  Water and nutrient simulations using the HYPE model for Sweden vs. the Baltic Sea basin – influence of input-data quality and scale. Hydrology research 43(4):315-329.

Strömqvist, J., Arheimer, B., Dahné, J., Donnelly, C. and Lindström, G. 2012. Water and nutrient predictions in ungauged basins – Set-up and evaluation of a model at the national scale. Hydrological Sciences Journal 57(2):229-247.

Reckermann M., Langner, J., Omstedt,A., von Storch, H., Keevallik, S., Schneider, B., Arheimer, B., Meier, H.E.M. and Hünicke, B. 2011. BALTEX—an interdisciplinary research network for the Baltic Sea region. Environ. Res. Lett. 6(4): doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045205

Alkan Olsson, J., Jonsson, A., Andersson, L., and Arheimer, B. 2011. A model supported participatory process: a socio-legal analysis of a bottom up implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. International J. of Agricultural Sustainability 9(2), 379-389.

Lindström, G., Pers, C.P., Rosberg, R., Strömqvist, J., Arheimer, B. 2010. Development and test of the HYPE (Hydrological Predictions for the Environment) model – A water quality model for different spatial scales. Hydrology Research 41.3-4:295-319.

Andersson, L., Alkan-Olsson, J. Arheimer, B. and Johnsson, A. 2008.  Use of participatory scenario modelling as platforms in stakeholder dialogues. HELP special edition. Water SA 34(4):439-447.

Arheimer, B., Andersson, L., Alkan-Olsson, J. and Jonsson, A. 2007. Using catchment models for establishment of measure plans according to the WFD. Water Science and Technology 56(1):21-28.

Jonsson, A., Andersson, L., Alkan-Olsson¸ J., Arheimer, B. 2007. How participatory can participatory modeling be? A discussion of the degree of influence of stakeholder and expert perspectives in six dimensions of participatory modeling. Water Science and Technology 56(1):207-214.

Verthoeven, J.T.A., Arheimer, B., Yin, C., Hefting, M.M. 2006. Regional and global concerns over wetlands and water quality. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21(2):96-103.

Jöborn, A., Danielsson, I., Arheimer, B., Jonsson, A., Larsson, M.H., Lundqvist, L.J., Löwgren, M. and Tonderski, K. 2005. Integrated water management for eutrophication control: public participation, pricing policy, and catchment modelling. Ambio 34(7):482-488.

Andersson, L. Rosberg, J., Pers, B.C., Olsson, J. and Arheimer, B. 2005. Estimating catchment nutrient flow with the HBV-NP model: sensitivity to input data. Ambio 34(7)521-532.

Arheimer, B., Andréasson, J., Fogelberg, S., Johnsson, H., Pers, C.B. and Persson, K. 2005. Climate change impact on water quality: model results from southern Sweden. Ambio 34(7):559-566.

Arheimer, B., Löwgren, M., Pers, B.C. and Rosberg, J. 2005. Integrated catchment modeling for nutrient reduction: scenarios showing impacts, potential and cost of measures. Ambio 34(7):513-520.

Lindström, G., Rosberg, J. and Arheimer, B. 2005. Parameter Precision in the HBV-NP Model and Impacts on Nitrogen Scenario Simulations in the Rönneä River, Southern Sweden. Ambio 34(7): 533-537.

Tonderski, K., Arheimer, B. and Pers, B.C. 2005. Measured and modeled effect of constructed wetlands on phosphorus transport in South Sweden. Ambio 34(7): 544-551.

Venohr, M., Donohue, I., Fogelberg, S., Arheimer, B., Irvine, K. and Behrendt, H. 2005. Nitrogen retention in a river system and the effects of river morphology and lakes. Water Science and Technology, 51(3-4):19-29.

Arheimer,B., Andersson , L., Larsson , M., Lindström , G., Olsson , J., Pers B.C., 2004. Modelling diffuse nutrient flow in eutrophication control scenarios. Water Science and Technology 49(3):37-45.

Arheimer, B., Torstensson, G. and Wittgren, H.B., 2004. Landscape planning to reduce coastal eutrophication: Constructed Wetlands and Agricultural Practices. Landscape and Urban Planning 67(1-4):205-215.

Andersson, L. and Arheimer, B., 2003. Modelling of human and climatic impact on nitrogen load in a Swedish river 1885-1994. Hydrobiologia 497(1-3):63-77.

Arheimer, B., 2003. Handling scales when estimating Swedish nitrogen contribution from various sources to the Baltic Sea. Landschap 20(2):81-90.
Arheimer, B. and Wittgren, H.B., 2002. Modelling Nitrogen Retention in Potential Wetlands at the Catchment Scale. Ecological Engineering 19(1):63-80.

Andersson, L. and Arheimer, B., 2001. Consequences of changed wetness on riverine nitrogen – human impact on retention vs. natural climatic variability. Regional Environmental Change 2:93-105.

Pettersson, A., Arheimer, B. and Johansson, B., 2001. Nitrogen concentrations simulated with HBV-N: new response function and calibration strategy. Nordic Hydrology 32(3):227-248.

Arheimer, B. and Brandt, M., 2000. Watershed modelling of non-point nitrogen pollution from arable land to the Swedish coast in 1985 and 1994. Ecological Engineering 14:389-404.

Arheimer, B. and Lidén, R., 2000. Nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations from agricultural catchments - influence of spatial and temporal variables. Journal of Hydrology 227:140-159.

Marmefelt, E., Arheimer, B. and Langner, J., 1998. An integrated biogeochemical model system for the Baltic Sea. Hydrobiologia 393:45-56.
Arheimer, B. and Brandt, M., 1998. Modelling nitrogen transport and retention in the catchments of southern Sweden. Ambio 27(6):471-480.

Arheimer, B., Andersson, L. and Lepistö, A., 1996. Variations of nitrogen concentrations in forest streams - influences of flow, seasonality and catchment characteristics. Journal of Hydrology 179:281-304.

Wittgren, H. B. and Arheimer, B., 1996. Source apportionment of riverine nitrogen transport based on catchment modelling. Water Science and Technology 33(4-5):109-115.

Lepistö, A., Andersson, L., Arheimer, B. and Sundblad, K., 1995. Influence of catchment characteristics, forestry activities and deposition on nitrogen export from small forested catchments. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 84:81-102.

Arheimer, B. and Wittgren, H. B., 1994. Modelling the effects of wetlands on regional nitrogen transport. Ambio 23(6):378-386.