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Controls on spatial variability in mean concentrations and export patterns of river chemistry across the Australian continent
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  • Shuci Liu,
  • Rémi Dupas,
  • Danlu Guo,
  • Anna Lintern,
  • Camille Minaudo,
  • Ulrike Bende-Michl,
  • Kefeng Zhang,
  • Clément Duvert
Shuci Liu
Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Rémi Dupas
INRAE, L'institut Agro, UMR 1069 SAS, 35000 Rennes, France
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Danlu Guo
University of Melbourne
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Anna Lintern
Monash University
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Camille Minaudo
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Ulrike Bende-Michl
Bureau of Meteorology (Australia)
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Kefeng Zhang
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the University of New South Wales
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Clément Duvert
Charles Darwin University
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The state and dynamics of river chemistry are influenced by both anthropogenic and natural catchment characteristics. However, understanding key controls on catchment mean concentrations and export patterns comprehensively across a wide range of climate zones is still lacking, as most of this research is focused on temperate regions. In this study, we investigate the catchment controls on mean concentrations and export patterns (concentrationdischarge relationship, C–Q slope) of river chemistry, using a long-term data set of up to 507 sites spanning five climate zones (i.e., arid, Mediterranean, temperate, subtropical, tropical) across the Australian continent. We use Bayesian model averaging (BMA) and hierarchical modelling (BHM) approaches to predict the mean concentrations and export patterns and compare the relative importance of 26 catchment characteristics (e.g., topography, climate, land use, land cover, soil properties and hydrology). Our results demonstrate that mean concentrations result from the interaction of catchment intrinsic and anthropogenic factors (i.e., land use, topography and soil), while export patterns are more influenced by catchment intrinsic characteristics only (i.e., topography). We also found that incorporating the effects of climate zones in a BHM framework improved the predictability of both mean concentrations and C–Q slopes, suggesting the importance of climatic controls on hydrological and biogeochemical processes. Our study provides insights into the contrasting effects of catchment controls across different climate zones. Investigating those controls can inform sustainable water quality management strategies that consider the potential changes in river chemistry state and export behaviour.