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Research identifies new’mixers’ in river pollution cocktail’
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Research identifies new’mixers’ in river pollution cocktail’

According to a new study, water quality in rivers is affected due to the interaction between people and their environment. This was done as part of a partnership between Indo and UK projects.

The study revealed that pollutants can move at different speeds along rivers and accumulate in varying numbers.

Researchers discovered that breakpoints, which are often found at the junction of tributaries and the main river, can alter the behaviour of certain compounds. This can cause the concentration to change dramatically depending on where they are in their journey down the river.

Large river systems such as the Ganga are vital water resources, which has important implications for global food, water and energy security. Understanding the complex dynamics of such systems remains a major challenge according to Stefan Krause (Professor of Ecohydrology, Biogeochemistry, University of Birmingham).

Krause stated that the breakpoints we identified in India alter the behavior of some compounds and alter the composition of the chemical cocktail flowing down the Ganga to its ocean.

Professor said that breakpoint analysis could be a “game changer” in understanding how pollutants travel along major watercourses. It will allow us to identify hotspots that will shed new light on the behavior of aquatic pollution and how to better tackle it.

Experts discovered this phenomenon after a systematic approach to hydrogeochemical dynamics in large river system along the length of India’s River Ganges (Ganga), from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean.

This research approach, which was successful at the Ganga, can be applied to large river systems around the world to shed light on how to address the global problem of aquatic pollution by multiple interacting pollutants.

The international research team that includes experts from the Universities of Birmingham, Manchester, and other Indian and UK collaborators published their findings in Water Research journal. It revealed that chemicals such as nitrate and sulfate, along with calcium, sodium, and strontium, are cut and boosted in different amounts by a series of breakpoints on the Ganga.

They discovered that mixing, diluting and weathering are key factors in major hydrochemistry. They identified four major breakpoints that alter the concentration of at most four chemicals in the river. Five minor breakpoints impact the water mix of 2-3 chemicals. Only two locations can have an effect on one parameter.

A 2019 post-monsoonal survey of the 81 bank-side sampling points led researchers to identify five major hydrogeochemical zone – which are characterized in part by the inputs of key rivers, urban and agricultural areas and estuarine inputs close to the Bay of Bengal.

Laura Richards from the University of Manchester, who is the study’s lead author, said that her research helps to understand downstream transitions in the River Ganga’s chemical chemistry. She also provided important baseline information and quantification of both solute sources, and controls.

Richards stated that the systematic approach could also be applied to other large river systems to improve understanding of a river system as important as the Ganga.

This innovative research approach provides systematic insight into key geochemistry factors in Ganga, one of the most important and largest river systems in the world. It flows over 2,500 km from the Himalayas to Bay of Bengal through one of most densely populated regions.

The river is a major source for livelihood and is important to over 400 million people. However, it faces increasing environmental challenges due to rapid development, climate change and increasing urbanisation.

(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.

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