What affects the nitrogen retention in Tatra Mountains lakes' catchments in Poland?
Abstract. The study of acidification and recovery of two lakes situated in the Polish Tatra Mountains, exposed to similar deposition of acidic substances but differing in altitude, catchment morphology, hydrology, and biodiversity is presented. Measurements were performed in 1992–1996 and 2001–2005. Simultaneously, research on the atmospheric deposition was carried out. The following physical and chemical parameters in lake water and precipitation were measured: pH, conductivity (K25), Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, NH4+, SO42−, NO3−, Cl− and alkalinity. Distinct changes in the chemical composition of precipitation were observed over 14 years (1992–2005). During this time the sulphate concentration decreased significantly, and the concentration of hydrogen ions in precipitation decreased at an average rate of 2.23 meq/m3/yr. There was no significant change in nitrate, ammonium or total nitrogen deposition. The chemical composition of water of both lakes changed significantly and showed signs of chemical recovery with decreases in sulphate concentration and increases in acid neutralising capacity. The concentration of base cations declined. Despite the lack of clear trends in nitrogen deposition, a statistically significant drop in concentration was observed in the two lakes. A significant increase of about 15% in the retention of nitrogen compounds in both catchments occurred. An improvement in nitrogen saturation status in both catchments was observed. This probably resulted mainly from decreasing acidification and global warming which prolongs the vegetative period, changes plant species composition and increases the microbiological activity of soil.