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Environ Pollut. 2005 Sep;137(1):27-39.

Trends in surface water chemistry of acidified UK freshwaters, 1988-2002.

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  • 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK.


Analysis of water chemistry data from 15 years of monitoring at 22 acid-sensitive lakes and streams in the UK reveals coherent national chemical trends indicative of recovery from acidification. Excess sulphate and base cations exhibit significant decline, often accompanied by an increase in an alkalinity-based determination of acid neutralising capacity (AB-ANC) and, at fewer sites, a decline in hydrogen and labile aluminium. Acid neutralising capacity determined by "charge-balance" (CB-ANC) exhibits few trends, possibly due to compound errors associated with its determination. Trend slopes in excess sulphate correlate with those for base cations, hydrogen ion and AB-ANC, with between-site variability linked to catchment hydrology, sea-salt inputs and forestry. Nitrate concentrations have not changed significantly but show high sensitivity to varying climate. Trends in AB-ANC are influenced by significant increases in dissolved organic carbon, the cause of which it is vital to establish before trends in the former can definitively be attributed to decreasing acidic deposition.

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