, Volume 61, Issue 18 Supplement, pp S21-S33

Chemical composition of the Tatra Mountain lakes: Recovery from acidification

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Abstract

Ninety-one lakes distributed along the Tatra Mountains (most of lakes > 1 ha and 65% of lakes > 0.01 ha) were sampled and analysed for ionic and nutrient composition in September 2004 (15 years after reduction in acid deposition). Eighty-one lakes were in alpine zone and ten lakes in Norway spruce forest. The results were compared to similar lake surveys from 1994 (the beginning of water recovery from acidification) and 1984 (maximum acidification). Atmospheric deposition of SO 4 2− and inorganic N decreased 57% and 35%, respectively, in this region from the late 1980s to 2000. Lake water concentrations of SO 4 2− and NO 3 have decreased both by ∼50% on average (to 23 and 19 μmol L−1, respectively, in 2004) since 1984. While the decrease in SO 4 2− concentrations was stable throughout 1984–2004, most of the NO 3 decrease occurred from 1994 to 2004. The declines in SO 4 2− and NO 3 concentrations depended on catchment coverage with vegetation, being most rapid for SO 4 2− in forest lakes and for NO 3 in rocky lakes. Concentrations of the sum of base cations (dominated by Ca2+) significantly decreased between 1984 and 2004, with the highest change in rocky lakes. Most of this decline occurred between 1994 and 2004. Acid neutralising capacity (ANC) did not change in the 1984–1994 period, but increased on average by 29 μmol L−1 between 1994 and 2004, with the highest change in rocky lakes. Over the last decade, the proportion of lakes with ANC > 150 μmol L−1 increased from 15% to 21% and that of ANC < 20 μmol L−1 decreased from 37% to 20%. The highest decline in H+ and Al concentrations occurred in the most acid lakes. On a regional basis, no significant change was observed for total phosphorus, total organic nitrogen, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the 1994–2004 period. However, these parameters increased in forest lakes, which exhibited an increasing trend in DOC concentrations, inversely related (P < 0.001) to their decreasing ionic strength (30% on average in 1994–2004).