, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 170–179 | Cite as

Changes in the Chemistry of Small Irish lakes

  • Andrew W. Burton
  • Julian Aherne


A re-survey of acid-sensitive lakes in Ireland (initial survey 1997) was carried out during spring 2007 (n = 60). Since 1997, atmospheric emissions of sulfur dioxide and deposition of non-marine sulfate (SO4 2−) in Ireland have decreased by ~63 and 36%, respectively. Comparison of water chemistry between surveys showed significant decreases in the concentration of SO4 2−, non-marine SO4 2−, and non-marine base cations. In concert, alkalinity increased significantly; however, no change was observed in surface water pH and total aluminum. High inter-annual variability in sea salt inputs and increasing (albeit non-significant) dissolved organic carbon may have influenced the response of pH and total aluminum (as ~70% is organic aluminum). Despite their location on the western periphery of Europe, and dominant influence from Atlantic air masses, the repeat survey suggests that the chemistry of small Irish lakes has shown a significant response to reductions in air pollution driven primarily by the implementation of the Gothenburg Protocol under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution.


Lake chemistry Sulfate Emissions Sea salts Dissolved organic carbon 



Financial support for this research was provided by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency under the Climate Change Research Programme (CCRP) 2007–2013 and the Canada Research Chair and NSERC discovery grant programs. We gratefully thank E. P. Farrell and T. Cummins for providing laboratory facilities at University College Dublin, and T. Clair for assistance with lake chemistry quality control. Finally, this work would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the field crew: Jim Johnson, Brent Parsons, Tim Seabert, Koji Tominaga, Colin Whitfield and Antoni Zbieranowski.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental and Resource StudiesTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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