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

Øyvind A. Garmo, Brit Lisa Skjelkvåle, Heleen A. De Wit, Luca Colombo, Chris Curtis, Jens Fölster, Andreas Hoffmann, Jakub Hruška, Tore Høgåsen, Dean S. Jeffries, W. Bill Keller, Pavel Krám, Vladimir Majer, Don T. Monteith, Andrew M. Paterson, Michela Rogora, Dorota Rzychon, Sandra Steingruber, John L. Stoddard, Jussi VuorenmaaAdam Worsztynowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1880
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Acid deposition
  • Chemical recovery
  • Monitoring network
  • Surfacewaters
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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