The transnational expert system SCREMOTOX is capable to demonstrate the (relative) contribution of diffuse pollution sources to coastal water quality on the scale of the North Sea. Furthermore, implication regarding the potential impact of Climate Change on the water quality are included in the system. For the intended North Sea wide assessment, data, information and model results have been applied and combined with the findings from the four DiPol case studies.


An assessment of the impact of climate change on diffuse pollution on the scale of the North Sea has been carried out in the framework of the DiPol project. The focus has mostly been on diffuse pollution from particle bound chemicals carried by the rivers draining into the North Sea. The assessment has been made in a quantitative way as much as possible, using for example the outcome from a Global Hydrological Model driven by different Global Climate Models, and a database of the measured quality of suspended solids dependent of the river flow. The results are summarised in a qualitative way in the following figure:

Figure: Qualitative overview of climate change impacts on the North Sea water quality affected by diffuse pollution

It can be concluded that there are reasons to be conscious of a possible climate change induced increase of (sorbed) chemicals run-off from rivers into the sea. However, there is no solid evidence of this process, in view of the uncertainty in the forecasted impacts of climate change on the river hydrology, on the river sedimentology and the changes in the estuaries along the North Sea’s flat coasts. The possible increase of (sorbed) chemicals run-off from rivers into the sea will be associated to events, and on average it will not be a major change.

More “event” water quality data are needed to improve insights (and have actually already been collected within DiPol during the 2011 Elbe flood). Monitoring long term changes of the sediment and biota quality in coastal lagoons could be a feasible way to implicitly measure the possible impact from events. The DiPol consortium recommend such monitoring to be included in the management plans developed for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

A summary report on the results of the SCREMOTOX approach within DiPol is available here.

Harbour of Harwich in England

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