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Implications of climate change on nutrient pollution: a look into the nitrogen and phosphorus loadings in the Great Miami and Little Miami watersheds in Ohio

Agricultural Research Development Program (ARDP), Central State University, Wilberforce, OH 45384, USA

The Great Miami (GM) and Little Miami (LM) watersheds in Ohio are included in the 51 major river systems in the United States for long-term assessment of conditions of water quality under the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loadings have decreased over the years in the GM and LM basins, however, they still remain among the highest concentrations detected in the nation. The latest nutrient loading analysis from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) showed slightly above period of record averages for N and P. Significant amounts of mobilized agricultural N and P from fertilizers in watersheds are transported to the Ohio River and other coastal marine systems such as the Gulf of Mexico, leading to increased growth of harmful algal blooms. In the GM and LM watersheds, changes in flood frequency and intensity are projected to occur in the future as heavy precipitation events are likely to increase as a result of climate change. As climate plays a role for nutrient transformation and transport, studies have shown that N and P inputs to surface waters from agriculture and other sources are projected to continue to increase over the next several decades. This paper reviewed the means of how the GM and LM watersheds are ecologically affected by the N and P nutrient pollution and how climate change impacts the quantity of N and P loadings that go into the river systems. Without better understanding of the nutrient loading processes and their association with various agricultural practices and interactions with climate, there could be additional threats to water quality in both the GM and LM watersheds in decades to come. This literature review has made references to many pertinent new publications that have become available in recent years, as well as to the classic literature.
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