Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Planetary Phosphorus Boundary Exceeded

Planetary Phosphorus Boundary Exceeded

Ratings: (0)|Views: 6|Likes:
Published by Jack Mosel

More info:

Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Jack Mosel on Apr 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/14/2011

pdf

text

original

 
Reconsideration of the planetary boundary for phosphorus
This article has been downloaded from IOPscience. Please scroll down to see the full text article.2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 014009(http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/1/014009)Download details:IP Address: 96.232.170.68The article was downloaded on 03/03/2011 at 03:47Please note thatterms and conditions apply.Viewthe table of contents for this issue, or go to the journal homepagefor more HomeSearchCollectionsJournalsAboutContact usMy IOPscience
 
IOP P
UBLISHING
E
NVIRONMENTAL
R
ESEARCH
L
ETTERS
Environ. Res. Lett.
6
Reconsideration of the planetaryboundary for phosphorus
Stephen R Carpenter
1
and Elena M Bennett
2
1
Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2
Department of Natural Resource Sciences and McGill School of Environment, McGillUniversity, 21 111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne de Bellevue, QC, H9X 3V9, CanadaE-mail:srcarpen@wisc.eduandElena.Bennett@mcgill.ca
Received 9 November 2010Accepted for publication 25 January 2011Published 14 February 2011Online atstacks.iop.org/ERL/6/014009
Abstract
Phosphorus (P) is a critical factor for food production, yet surface freshwaters and some coastalwaters are highly sensitive to eutrophication by excess P. A planetary boundary, or uppertolerable limit, for P discharge to the oceans is thought to be ten times the pre-industrial rate, ormore than three times the current rate. However this boundary does not take account of freshwater eutrophication. We analyzed the global P cycle to estimate planetary boundaries forfreshwater eutrophication. Planetary boundaries were computed for the input of P tofreshwaters, the input of P to terrestrial soil, and the mass of P in soil. Each boundary wascomputed for two water quality targets, 24 mg P m
3
, a typical target for lakes and reservoirs,and 160 mg m
3
, the approximate pre-industrial P concentration in the world’s rivers. Planetaryboundaries were also computed using three published estimates of current P flow to the sea.Current conditions exceed all planetary boundaries for P. Substantial differences betweencurrent conditions and planetary boundaries demonstrate the contrast between large amounts of P needed for food production and the high sensitivity of freshwaters to pollution by P runoff. Atthe same time, some regions of the world are P-deficient, and there are some indications that aglobal P shortage is possible in coming decades. More efficient recycling and retention of Pwithin agricultural ecosystems could maintain or increase food production while reducing Ppollution and improving water quality. Spatial heterogeneity in the global P cycle suggests thatrecycling of P in regions of excess and transfer of P to regions of deficiency could mitigateeutrophication, increase agricultural yield, and delay or avoid global P shortage.
Keywords:
eutrophication, freshwater, peak phosphorus, phosphorus, planetary boundaries,water quality
1. Introduction
As humans exert an ever-growing influence on earth systemprocesses, scientific effort to estimate and categorize thatinfluence has increased. Some researchers suggest that wehave entered a new geologic era, the anthropocene, in whichhuman actions are a principal driver of change in earth systemprocesses (Crutzen2002, Steffen
et al
2007). The globalinfluence of human action raises questions about the amountof change in global processes that can be accommodated whilemaintaining or improving human well-being.Rockstr¨om
et al
(2009a,2009b) introduce the concept of planetary boundaries to define a safe operating space forhumanity on Earth. They define a planetary boundary as ahuman-determined acceptable level of a key global variable.For example, the planetary boundary for stratospheric ozonewas defined as a decrease of 
<
5% relative to 1964–80 levels(Rockstr¨om
et al
2009a), and current global policies are likelyto maintain ozone levels within this boundary. Rockstr¨om
et al
(2009a,2009b)identified nine global boundaries that, if crossed, would change the earth system with unacceptableconsequences for humanity. One of those boundaries pertained
1748-9326/11/014009+12
$
33.00
©
2011 IOP Publishing Ltd Printed in the UK
1
 
Environ. Res. Lett.
6
(2011) 014009 S R Carpenter and E M Bennett
to cycling of phosphorus (P). The P boundary was basedon oceanic conditions and proposed to be ten times the pre-industrial flow to oceans (Rockstr¨om
et al
2009a,2009b). The current flow to oceans is about three times thepre-industrial flow (Bennett
et al
2001), yet even this inputis associated with extensive eutrophication of freshwaters.Eutrophication makes water non-potable, causes blooms of cyanobacteria that are toxic to humans and livestock, depletesoxygen and causes fish kills, and is expensive to mitigate(Smith
et al
2006,Schindler2006). Along with the problem of too much P in some locations, we simultaneously facethe potential of having not enough P to support agriculturalproduction and meet growing demand for food. There areindications that the world may be approaching ‘Peak P’,an era when demand for P exceeds available global supply(Cordell
et al
2009). However, peaks in mineral resourcesare difficult to forecast and others have disputed the claim thatPeak P could be reached in a few decades (van Kauwenbergh2010). Nonetheless, Peak P is worthy of careful considerationbecause declines in P availability could significantly decreaseagricultural yields.Widespread eutrophication of freshwaters and coastaloceans, combined with potential P shortages in comingdecades, suggest that humanity may have already crossedplanetary boundaries for P. Thus the planetary boundary forP warrants a closer look. Here, we reconsider the planetaryboundary for P taking effects on freshwater systems intoaccount. We consider human mobilization of P, throughsoil amendments, as the driver. We consider freshwatereutrophication as the adverse outcome to be avoided. Weconsider spatial heterogeneity of the global P cycle, as wellas implications of eutrophication and Peak P for the planetaryboundary.
2. Background
The P concentration of surface freshwaters depends on theinflow of P from surrounding lands, the flow of water thatdilutes the P, the rate of storage of P in freshwater sediments,and the export of P to the sea (figure1). Many of the globalstocks and flows needed to determine the planetary boundaryfor P are previously published and are reviewed in this sectionof the paper.
2.1. Global phosphorus pools and flows
The flows of P from the continents through terrestrial andfreshwater ecosystems to the sea are described in figure1.The terrestrial pool of P consists mainly of P in terrestrialsoil. Surface freshwater ecosystem P includes P dissolved andsuspended in water and in surface sediments that exchangeactively with the water. Inputs of P to continental ecosystemsare mining, human-induced weathering (by land surfacedisturbance), and natural weathering. Outputs of P from thecontinents are dust flux from land to oceans, river transportfrom freshwaters to oceans, and long-term burial in freshwatersediment. Agricultural fertilizer is a major input of P toerodible soil and soil erosion is the principal source of P to
Figure 1.
Pools and flows of phosphorus considered in this paper. Pin surface freshwater ecosystems includes P in water as well asrapidly exchanging sediments. See text and equations(1) for definitions of symbols.
surface freshwaters. Transport of P from soil to freshwaterecosystems occurs in the form of P sorbed to eroded sedimentparticles and dissolved forms of P. Once P enters lakes andrivers it can be added to sediments or transported downstream.Freshwater P can be removed from circulation when it enterspermanent sediments that are no longer recycled to surfacewaters on ecological time scales (years to decades).We evaluated the P system usinga linear, donor-controlledmass balance model:d
 X 
1
d
=
1
+
2
+
3
c
1
 X 
1
c
2
 X 
1
d
 X 
2
d
=
c
1
 X 
1
c
3
 X 
2
c
4
 X 
2
.
(1)Terms of equations (1)correspond to the pools and flows depicted in figure1.
1
and
2
are P (Tg) in terrestrial soiland freshwaters (water plus actively exchanging sediments),respectively.
1
,
2
, and
3
are inputs (Tg y
1
) frommining, human-induced weathering, and natural weathering,respectively. The rate coefficients (
 y
1
)
c
1
,
c
2
,
c
3
, and
c
4
refer, respectively, to transport rates from terrestrial tofreshwater ecosystems, terrestrial to marine ecosystems asdust, freshwater ecosystems to permanent sediments, andfreshwater ecosystems to the sea.
2.2. P pools and flows: published estimates
Estimates are known for several important global fluxes orpools of P pertinent to equations (1) (table1). According to the International Fertilizer Association (IFA2009), 23.5 Tg P was mined in 2008. Of this mined P,approximately 4% is used for industrial products (Cordell
et al
2009) and is unlikely to enter terrestrial ecosystems. Theremainder, 22
.
6 Tg y
1
, is used principally for fertilizer and asmaller amount is fed to livestock in feed supplements. Nearlyall this P is added to terrestrial soil.Current mass of P in erodible soil is estimated by Smil(2000) to be 50000 Tg based on an assumption of an averageof 0.05% of totalP inthe top 50cm of soil(Stevenson and Cole1999). Weathering is split into human-induced weathering andnatural weathering. Assuming a mean lithospheric content of 0.1% P and average global denudation rate of 750 kg ha
1
,Smil (2000) estimates that 10 Tg P is released annually from2

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->