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Environ Pollut. 2005 Sep;137(1):55-71.

Long-term increases in surface water dissolved organic carbon: observations, possible causes and environmental impacts.

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Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Orton Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor, LL57 2UP, UK.


Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in 22 UK upland waters have increased by an average of 91% during the last 15 years. Increases have also occurred elsewhere in the UK, northern Europe and North America. A range of potential drivers of these trends are considered, including temperature, rainfall, acid deposition, land-use, nitrogen and CO2 enrichment. From examination of recent environmental changes, spatial patterns in observed trends, and analysis of time series, it is suggested that DOC may be increasing in response to a combination of declining acid deposition and rising temperatures; however it is difficult to isolate mechanisms based on monitoring data alone. Long-term DOC increases may have wide-ranging impacts on freshwater biota, drinking water quality, coastal marine ecosystems and upland carbon balances. Full understanding of the significance of these increases requires further knowledge of the extent of natural long-term variability, and of the natural "reference" state of these systems.

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