, Volume 107, Issue 1–3, pp 455–469 | Cite as

Experimental simulation of the effects of extreme climatic events on major ions, acidity and dissolved organic carbon leaching from a forested catchment, Gårdsjön, Sweden

  • Filip MoldanEmail author
  • Jakub Hruška
  • Christopher D. Evans
  • Michael Hauhs


Climate change is predicted to lead to an increase in extreme rainfall and, in coastal areas, sea-salt deposition events. The impacts of these two climatic extremes on stream hydrochemistry were separately evaluated via a novel watering manipulation at the Gårdsjön experimental catchment, SW Sweden. In summer 2004, a 2000 m2 hillslope draining to a defined stream reach was brought to a high-flow hydrological steady state for a 9 day period by sustained addition of ‘clean’ water using a distributed sprinkler system. Marine ions were then added, to generate a realistic ‘sea salt’ episode. A remarkably well constrained hydrological response was observed, such that a simple two-compartment mixing model could reasonably well reproduce observed conservative tracer (chloride, Cl) measurements, and 78% of added water was recovered in runoff. Stream base cation concentrations and acidity responded predictably to clean water and sea-salt addition, with the former leading to an increase in pH and acid neutralising capacity, and the latter to episodic acidification through hydrogen ion and aluminium displacement from soil exchange sites by marine base cations. Anion responses were less predictable: water addition caused a flush of nitrate, but this was apparently independent of rainfall composition. Sulphate remained near-constant during clean water addition but declined sharply during sea-salt addition, indicative of a strong, pH-dependent solubility control on leaching, presumably adsorption/desorption in the mineral soil. Most strikingly, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were stable during clean water addition but varied dramatically in response to sea-salt addition, exhibiting a strong negative correlation with Cl concentrations in water draining the organic soil. These observations provide a robust experimental verification of the hypothesis that deposition chemistry, through its influence on acidity and/or ionic strength, has a major influence on DOC leaching to surface waters.


Acidity Climate change DOC Ionic strength Hydrological episodes Nitrogen leaching Sea salt Sulphate adsorption Gårdsjön 



This work was funded in part by the European Commission under the 6th Framework EU project EUROLIMPACS (GOCE-CT-2003-505540); project CZ0051 funded through EEA grant and Norwegian Financial Mechanism; the University of Bayreuth and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency through research programme Climate Change and Environmental Objectives (CLEO).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filip Moldan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jakub Hruška
    • 2
  • Christopher D. Evans
    • 3
  • Michael Hauhs
    • 4
  1. 1.IVL Swedish Environmental Research InstituteGöteborgSweden
  2. 2.Czech Geological SurveyPraha 1Czech Republic
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyEnvironment Centre WalesBangorUK
  4. 4.University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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