Trace elements (n = 23) in Irish headwater lakes (n = 126) were investigated to determine their ambient concentrations, fractionation (total, dissolved, and non-labile), and geochemical controls. Lakes were generally located in remote upland, acid-sensitive regions along the coastal margins of the country. Total trace metal concentrations were low, within the range of natural pristine surface waters; however, some lakes (~20 %) had inorganic labile aluminum and manganese at levels potentially harmful to aquatic organisms. Redundancy analysis indicated that geochemical weathering was the dominant controlling factor for total metals, compared with acidity for dissolved metals. In addition, many metals were positively correlated with dissolved organic carbon indicating their affinity (or complexation) with humic substances (e.g., aluminum, iron, mercury, lead). However, a number of trace metals (e.g., aluminum, mercury, zinc) were correlated with anthropogenic acidic deposition (i.e., non-marine sulfate), suggesting atmospheric sources or elevated leaching owing to acidic deposition. As transboundary air pollution continues to decline, significant changes in the cycling of trace metals is anticipated.
KeywordsWater chemistry Long-range atmospheric transport Fractionation Dissolved organic carbon Geochemical weathering Marine inputs
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 Thomas Cummins for providing laboratory facilities at University College Dublin, and Tom Clair, Environment Canada, 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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