Document Detail

A regional examination of episodic acidification response to reduced acidic deposition and the influence of plantation forests in Irish headwater streams.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23183228     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Episodic surface water acidification is common in many regions worldwide; the driving processes are dependent on a variety of physicochemical and climatic characteristics, and acid deposition pressures, which have changed significantly over the last two decades. This study provided a unique opportunity to re-examine the drivers of acidity in an environment of low anthropogenic input. In three geologically distinct acid-sensitive regions of Ireland during 2009-2010, 34 headwater streams were evaluated in peat-dominated catchments draining moorlands without forest, 20-50% (low) forest cover and >50% (high) forest cover. Results indicated episodic acidity/alkalinity loss in headwater streams, despite significant reductions in acid deposition. Both the differences in pH between base and storm-flow (∆pH) and the number of pH events≤5.5 were higher in forested streams. Dissolved organic carbon and inorganic aluminium concentrations were also higher in forested catchments. The primary driver of acidity was strong organic anions, which generally increased with increasing forest cover. Base-cation dilution was also prominent in west and southern regions, while surprisingly chlorine anion acidity from sea-salts had little or no influence on stream acidity. The contributions of excess non-marine sulphate (xSO(4)) and nitrate (NO(3)) to storm-water were low, with no observed increases in xSO(4) with increasing forest cover, although contributions of NO(3) were higher in forested catchments in the east. The results suggest that episodic acidification in Ireland is primarily driven by organic acids. However in peat dominant catchments, plantation forest, climate change and/or reductions in xSO(4) appear to also be having an effect on stream pH from increased DOC, with some forested streams previously unaffected by deposition now showing low pH (<5.5) during storm-flow. As quantified from this study, observed changes in stream acidification in Ireland may provide a better understanding of future chemical responses to declining acid deposition and climate change elsewhere.
Hugh B Feeley; Michael Bruen; Sean Blacklocke; Mary Kelly-Quinn
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2012-11-23
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Science of the total environment     Volume:  443C     ISSN:  1879-1026     ISO Abbreviation:  Sci. Total Environ.     Publication Date:  2012 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-11-27     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0330500     Medline TA:  Sci Total Environ     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  173-183     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Freshwater Biodiversity, Ecology and Fisheries Research Group (freBEF), UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, Science Education and Research Centre (West), University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland; Cardiff School of Biosciences, Sir Martin Evans Building, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
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