Ganga River research sheds light on aquatic pollution and could aid in the protection of water resources
Ganga River research – A newly released study on the Ganga’s potentially “game-changing” findings might be utilised to help combat pollution in big bodies of water and conserve important water resources around the world.
River water quality is influenced by underlying ‘natural’ hydrogeological and biogeochemical processes, as well as interactions between people and their environment, all of which are putting unprecedented stress on water supplies.
According to a new study, pollutants can migrate at varying speeds and collect along rivers, where the mix of the complex ‘cocktail’ of chemicals en route to the ocean is continuously changing.
Characteristic breakpoints – such as those found when a tributary joins the main river or when significant point sources exist – have been discovered to alter the behaviour of some compounds, causing their concentrations to fluctuate dramatically depending on where they are on their journey down the river.
After testing a novel, systematic technique to studying hydrogeochemical dynamics in major river systems along the full length of the Ganga, from its source in the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, experts identified the phenomena.
This innovative research approach, which has been shown successfully on the Ganga, can be adapted to other big river systems across the world, potentially assisting ecologists and authorities in addressing the global dilemma of many interacting pollutants polluting aquatic systems.
Chemicals such as nitrate, chloride, sulphate, calcium, sodium, and strontium are cut and boosted in different proportions by a series of breakpoints along the Ganga, according to the international research team, Experts from the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester, as well as other Indian and UK partners, make up the team.
Ganga River research
Mixing, dilution, and weathering are crucial processes affecting significant hydrochemistry, according to the researchers, who identified four major breakpoints that change the concentration of at least four chemicals in the river. Two’single‘ sites have an impact on just one parameter, while five minor breakpoints affect the water mix of two to three chemicals.
“Large river systems, such as the Ganga, provide critical water resources with substantial implications for global water, food, and energy security,” said Stefan Krause, Professor of Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry at the University of Birmingham. The complexity of such systems’ dynamics remains a key challenge.
“The breakpoints we discovered in India modify the behaviour of some substances, changing the makeup of the chemical cocktail that flows down the Ganga to the ocean.”
“Breakpoint analysis could be a game-changer in understanding how pollutants travel along major waterways, allowing us to find ‘hotspots’ that will provide new insight into aquatic pollution behaviour and management.”
Researchers identified five distinct hydrogeochemical zones based on a 2019 post-monsoonal survey of 81 bank-side sampling locations, which were defined in part by the inputs of key tributaries, urban and agricultural areas, and estuary inputs near the Bay of Bengal.
“By providing critical baseline information and measurement of solute sources and controls, our research aids in understanding downstream variations in the chemistry of the River Ganga,” said the lead author.
World’s largest and important river systems
Dr Laura Richards of the University of Manchester. The methodical technique utilised may be relevant to other big river systems, in addition to boosting understanding of a river system as environmentally and societally vital as the Ganga.”
The researcher’s novel research approach provides systematic insight into the factors that control key geochemistry in the Ganga – one of the world’s largest and most important river systems, flowing over 2,500 kilometres from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal through one of the world’s most densely populated areas.
The river is a major source of livelihood for more than 400 million people in India, as well as a significant part of many social and religious traditions, but it is facing increasing environmental challenges as a result of rapid development, climate change, increasing urbanisation, water demand, and agricultural intensity.
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