The Impact of Industrial SO2 Pollution on North Bohemia Conifers
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Conifer forests in the Jizerské Mountains, Czech Republic have experienced widespread and long-lasting effects related to industrial SO2 pollution. To explore the spatial and temporal impact of this phenomenon on Norway spruce stands, a transect of sites was sampled to the southeast of the Polish coal-fired power station Turów. Tree growth at all sites displayed a significant reduction around 1980, which could not be explained by climate alone. However, by incorporating both climate and SO2 variables in multiple regression models, the chronology trends could be explained well. The lowest growth rates were found to coincide with the period of greatest atmospheric SO2 concentrations and the degree of suppression decreased with increasing distance from the power station. The period of growth suppression in a Silver fir site appeared to be more severe and longer in duration than for the spruce, although differing site conditions prevented a direct comparison. Fir trees also appeared to be affected by SO2 pollution earlier in the twentieth century compared to spruce. Growth of both species, however, did not return to predicted levels following the reduction of pollution levels in the 1990s. A comparison with spruce and fir data from the Bavarian Forest, a region also affected by pollution in the past, revealed a temporal difference in growth suppression, likely related to different timings and loadings of SO2 emissions between both regions. This study highlights pollution as another potential causal factor for the ‘divergence problem’ and dendroclimatic reconstructions in polluted regions should be developed with caution.
KeywordsDendrochronology Ring width Atmospheric pollution SO2 emissions Tree growth modelling Divergence
The authors wish to thank Dr. Jana Nováková and Dr. Josef Křeček for their cooperation and provision of useful information related to the study area and fieldwork logistics. We also thank Jana Rydvalová and Ing. Miloš Rydval Sr. for their assistance during fieldwork. Finally, we also wish to acknowledge the help of Oldřich Kober, who proved to be a valuable source of local knowledge.
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