Trends in surface water chemistry in acidified areas in Europe and north America from 1990 to 2008

Garmo, Oyvind and Skjelvale, Brit Lisa and De Wit, Heleen and Colombo, Luca and Curtis, Chris and Fölster, Jens and Hoffmann, Andrei and Hruska, Jakub and Hogasen, Thor and Jeffries, Dean and Keller, Walter and Majer, Vladimir and Monteith, Don and Paterson, Allan and Rogora, Michela and Rzychon, Dorotha and Steingruber, Sandra and Stoddard, John and Vuorenmaa, Jussi and Worsztynowicz, Adam (2013) Trends in surface water chemistry in acidified areas in Europe and north America from 1990 to 2008. Water, Air, Soil Pollution, 225 (1880). ISSN 1573-2932 (In Press)

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Abstract

Acidification of lakes and rivers is still an environmental concern despite reduced emissions of acidifying compounds. We analysed trends in surface water chemistry of 173 acid-sensitive sites from 12 regions in Europe and North America. In 11 of 12 regions, non-marine sulphate (SO4*) declined significantly between 1990 and 2008 (−15 to −59 %). In contrast, regional and temporal trends in nitrate were smaller and less uniform. In 11 of 12 regions, chemical recovery was demonstrated in the form of positive trends in pH and/or alkalinity and/or acid neutralising capacity (ANC). The positive trends in these indicators of chemical recovery were regionally and temporally less distinct than the decline in SO4* and tended to flatten after 1999. From an ecological perspective, the chemical quality of surface waters in acid-sensitive areas in these regions has clearly improved as a consequence of emission abatement strategies, paving the way for some biological recovery.

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