A two-decade record of variations in suspended sediment in the Warta River, a lowland river in western Poland

Katarzyna Skolasińska, Bogumił Nowak, Katarzyna Bradtke


Fluctuations in suspended sediment concentration (SSC) has been investigated in the Warta River (western Poland), based on data obtained for the period 1961–1980 from three gauge stations located in upstream, middle-stream and downstream areas. Over the two decades, the SSC values demonstrated wide fluctuations and an overall increase at each gauge station. No significant correlation was generally observed between SSC and discharge but high SSC was found to follow low discharge and increasing temperature during the summer seasons in some years. Measurements of SSC and discharge were used to estimate total annual suspended sediment load (SSL). SSL values were found to increase downstream along with an increase in discharge. SSC decreases along the river course. However, when it comes to changes over time, SSL variability was mainly determined by SSC changes. The maximum SSC values were primarily caused by anthropogenic factors: the disposal of mine wastewater upstream, river training works, increased urbanisation and the intensification of sewage disposal. Where the river catchment has been greatly affected by anthropogenic factors, a denudation index calculated solely based on SSC and discharge does not appear to reflect the actual denudation rate, and must be treated with caution


suspended sediment concentration, suspended load, long-term record, anthropogenic impact, lowland river, the Warta River

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