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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Multidisciplinary Approach for Assessing Subsurface Non-Point Source Pollution

Authors
item Corwin, Dennis
item Loague, Keith - STANFORD UNIV. CA

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 6, 2004
Publication Date: January 10, 2005
Citation: Corwin, D.L., Loague, K. 2005. Multidisciplinary approach for assessing subsurface non-point source pollution. Chap. 1. In: Alverez-Benedi, J. and Munoz-Carpena, R. (eds.) Soil-Water-Solute Processed in Environmental Systems: An Integrated Approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. pp. 1-48.

Interpretive Summary: This invited book chapter serves as the introductory chapter to the CRC Press book entitled Soil-Water-Solute Process Characterization: An Integrated Approach. The book focuses on the presentation of a holistic approach to the characterization of soil processes from micro- to landscape scales. The primary concept conveyed in the book is that the scale of study of any soil process determines the approach that is taken to characterize that process, whether it is the transport of a non-point source (NPS) pollutant in soil within a field or the movement of water through a soil column in the laboratory. In other words, scale determines the approach. The introductory chapter sets the tone of the book by identifying the global extent of NPS pollution in soil and water and the need for tackling this problem from a spatial perspective with tools from a wide range of scientific disciplines. The chapter begins with a discussion of the extent and significance of the NPS pollution problem as a justification for spatially assessing it both from a real-time and predictive perspective. The chapter presents and discusses the multidisciplinary approach necessary to characterize soil processes at large scales such as the size of a farmer's field and larger, particularly with respect to the modeling of the fate and distribution of NPS pollutants in soil and water. Finally, a case study of groundwater vulnerability to NPS pollutants in California's San Joaquin Valley is discussed to demonstrate how the multidisciplinary approach has been used on a real-world problem.

Technical Abstract: Non-point source pollution is a global problem that must be addressed in a spatial context. The objective of this chapter is to describe an integrated, multidisciplinary approach for assessing soil pollutants in a complex spatially heterogeneous soil-groundwater system that is compatible with resident information resources and current infrastructure for capturing spatial environmental data and that can practically address real-world environmental issues pertaining to NPS pollution at landscape, regional, and global scales. The chapter begins with a discussion of the extent and significance of the NPS pollution problem as a justification for spatially assessing it both from a real-time and predictive perspective. The chapter presents and discusses the multidisciplinary approach necessary to model the fate and distribution of NPS pollutants in soil and water at landscape scales. The relationship of scale, spatial variability and structure are presented. The deterministic modeling approach is broken down into its constituents and discussed: (i) model conceptualization, (ii) model parameters, (iii) verification, (iv) sensitivity analysis, (v) Calibration, (vi) validation, (vii) confirmation, and (viii) simulation and uncertainty analysis. Each component of a NPS pollutant model (i.e., data, spatial database, and model) and their interrelationship are analyzed. Finally, a case study of groundwater vulnerability to NPS pollutants in California's San Joaquin Valley is discussed to demonstrate the application of a multidisciplinary approach to a real-world problem.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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