Global Anthropogenic Phosphorus Loads to Freshwater and Associated Grey Water Footprints and Water Pollution Levels: A High-Resolution Global Study

Mesfin M. Mekonnen (Corresponding Author), Arjen Y. Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

We estimate the global anthropogenic phosphorus (P) loads to freshwater and the associated grey water footprints (GWFs) for the period 2002–2010, at a spatial resolution of 5 × 5 arc min, and compare the GWF per river basin to runoff to assess the P-related water pollution level (WPL). The global anthropogenic P load to freshwater systems from both diffuse and point sources is estimated at 1.5 Tg/yr. More than half of this total load was in Asia, followed by Europe (19%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (13%). The domestic sector contributed 54% to the total, agriculture 38%, and industry 8%. In agriculture, cereals production had the largest contribution to the P load (31%), followed by fruits, vegetables, and oil crops, each contributing 15%. The global total GWF related to anthropogenic P loads is estimated to be 147 × 10 12 m 3/yr, with China contributing 30%, India 8%, USA 7%, and Spain and Brazil 6% each. The basins with WPL > 1 (where GWF exceeds the basin's assimilation capacity) together cover about 38% of the global land area, 37% of the global river discharge, and provide residence to about 90% of the global population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
JournalWater resources research
Volume54
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • grey water footprint
  • phosphorus cycle
  • phosphorus runoff
  • water pollution level
  • diffuse pollution

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