Monitoring of integrated ecosystem responses to air pollutants in the Swiss Alps - Final report of the pilot study

Bruder, Andreas and Pozzoni, Maurizio and Colombo, Luca and Lepori, Fabio and Scapozza, Cristian and Pera Ibarguren, Sebastian (2016) Monitoring of integrated ecosystem responses to air pollutants in the Swiss Alps - Final report of the pilot study. Project Report UNSPECIFIED , Canobbio.

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The deposition of atmospheric pollutants on ecosystems is a key environmental issue, especially in the southern slope of the Swiss Alps, which receive substantial inputs of pollutants from the Po valley in adjacent Italy. High-alpine catchments are usually particularly sensitive to atmospheric pollutants but also to other current environmental issues including climate change, mainly as a consequence of their low chemical buffer capacity and sensitive biological communities. The multitude of ecological pathways of effects of key atmospheric pollutants warrants an integrative monitoring of sensitive ecosystems. This environmental issue is being addressed by the International Cooperative Programme on Integrated Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems (ICP-IM) by the UN Economic Commission for Europe. The Institute of Earth Sciences of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland carried out a study to identify a suitable site for the integrated monitoring of atmospheric pollutants on high-alpine ecosystems. This study tested the catchment of the small alpine lake Lago Nero, located at the head of Val Bavona at an altitude of almost 2400m. In particular, this test should assess whether the selected study site would make a valuable contribution to ICP-IM and thus could represent Switzerland in this programme. Additionally, Lago Nero is monitored by a related long-term programme, i.e. ICP-Waters, which is focusing on summer surface water chemistry of a regional set of high-alpine lakes. There is thus great potential for synergies between these ICPs. Another crucial goal of the study was to develop the methodology required in this remote and high-altitude location, which poses challenges to material, equipment and to sampling in general.

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