Global gray water footprint and water pollution levels related to anthropogenic nitrogen loads to fresh water

Mesfin Mekonnen, Arjen Ysbert Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

This is the first global assessment of nitrogen-related water pollution in river basins with a specification of the pollution by economic sector, and by crop for the agricultural sector. At a spatial resolution of 5 by 5 arc minute, we estimate anthropogenic nitrogen (N) loads to freshwater, calculate the resultant gray water footprints (GWFs), and relate the GWFs per river basin to runoff to calculate the N-related water pollution level (WPL) per catchment. The accumulated global GWF related to anthropogenic N loads in the period 2002–2010 was 13 × 1012 m3/y. China contributed about 45% to the global total. Three quarters of the GWF related to N loads came from diffuse sources (agriculture), 23% from domestic point sources and 2% from industrial point sources. Among the crops, production of cereals had the largest contribution to the N-related GWF (18%), followed by vegetables (15%) and oil crops (11%). The river basins with WPL > 1 (where the N load exceeds the basin’s assimilation capacity), cover about 17% of the global land area, contribute about 9% of the global river discharge, and provide residence to 48% of the global population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12860-12868
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Volume49
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Fingerprint

water footprint
Water pollution
water pollution
Nitrogen
Catchments
Water
nitrogen
Crops
river basin
Rivers
point source
water
crop
Vegetables
river discharge
Runoff
crop production
Discharge (fluid mechanics)
cereal
Agriculture

Keywords

  • IR-99195
  • METIS-312414

Cite this

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title = "Global gray water footprint and water pollution levels related to anthropogenic nitrogen loads to fresh water",
abstract = "This is the first global assessment of nitrogen-related water pollution in river basins with a specification of the pollution by economic sector, and by crop for the agricultural sector. At a spatial resolution of 5 by 5 arc minute, we estimate anthropogenic nitrogen (N) loads to freshwater, calculate the resultant gray water footprints (GWFs), and relate the GWFs per river basin to runoff to calculate the N-related water pollution level (WPL) per catchment. The accumulated global GWF related to anthropogenic N loads in the period 2002–2010 was 13 × 1012 m3/y. China contributed about 45{\%} to the global total. Three quarters of the GWF related to N loads came from diffuse sources (agriculture), 23{\%} from domestic point sources and 2{\%} from industrial point sources. Among the crops, production of cereals had the largest contribution to the N-related GWF (18{\%}), followed by vegetables (15{\%}) and oil crops (11{\%}). The river basins with WPL > 1 (where the N load exceeds the basin’s assimilation capacity), cover about 17{\%} of the global land area, contribute about 9{\%} of the global river discharge, and provide residence to 48{\%} of the global population.",
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Global gray water footprint and water pollution levels related to anthropogenic nitrogen loads to fresh water. / Mekonnen, Mesfin; Hoekstra, Arjen Ysbert.

In: Environmental science & technology, Vol. 49, No. 21, 2015, p. 12860-12868.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

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AU - Hoekstra, Arjen Ysbert

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N2 - This is the first global assessment of nitrogen-related water pollution in river basins with a specification of the pollution by economic sector, and by crop for the agricultural sector. At a spatial resolution of 5 by 5 arc minute, we estimate anthropogenic nitrogen (N) loads to freshwater, calculate the resultant gray water footprints (GWFs), and relate the GWFs per river basin to runoff to calculate the N-related water pollution level (WPL) per catchment. The accumulated global GWF related to anthropogenic N loads in the period 2002–2010 was 13 × 1012 m3/y. China contributed about 45% to the global total. Three quarters of the GWF related to N loads came from diffuse sources (agriculture), 23% from domestic point sources and 2% from industrial point sources. Among the crops, production of cereals had the largest contribution to the N-related GWF (18%), followed by vegetables (15%) and oil crops (11%). The river basins with WPL > 1 (where the N load exceeds the basin’s assimilation capacity), cover about 17% of the global land area, contribute about 9% of the global river discharge, and provide residence to 48% of the global population.

AB - This is the first global assessment of nitrogen-related water pollution in river basins with a specification of the pollution by economic sector, and by crop for the agricultural sector. At a spatial resolution of 5 by 5 arc minute, we estimate anthropogenic nitrogen (N) loads to freshwater, calculate the resultant gray water footprints (GWFs), and relate the GWFs per river basin to runoff to calculate the N-related water pollution level (WPL) per catchment. The accumulated global GWF related to anthropogenic N loads in the period 2002–2010 was 13 × 1012 m3/y. China contributed about 45% to the global total. Three quarters of the GWF related to N loads came from diffuse sources (agriculture), 23% from domestic point sources and 2% from industrial point sources. Among the crops, production of cereals had the largest contribution to the N-related GWF (18%), followed by vegetables (15%) and oil crops (11%). The river basins with WPL > 1 (where the N load exceeds the basin’s assimilation capacity), cover about 17% of the global land area, contribute about 9% of the global river discharge, and provide residence to 48% of the global population.

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