Scientists Estimate Legacy Phosphorus To Reduce Long-Term Impacts

By on April 22, 2016

The River Thames in central London, UK near the tidal limit at Teddington Lock. (Credit: Helen Jarvie)


Feeding the whole human population takes a lot of crop growing. Getting that done means using a lot of fertilizer, which helps to up the amount of phosphorus that makes it into waterways like lakes and rivers. But what about legacy phosphorus, the amount of the nutrient that accumulates in the surrounding landscapes?

For the first time, an international group of scientists, including researchers from Arizona State University, has come up with a way to estimate on a large scale how phosphorus flows through an environment over many decades. By doing so, researchers are gaining a better understanding of how and where phosphorus accumulates.

With that approach, scientists are looking to understand how human activity affects the accumulation of phosphorus in the environment. From there, they are looking to focus research efforts on reducing its long-term impacts. That, they hope, will help to secure food and water supplies for future generations.

Full results of the effort are published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Top image: The River Thames in central London, UK near the tidal limit at Teddington Lock. (Credit: Helen Jarvie)

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