Articles | Volume 2, issue 4
Special issue:
31 Dec 1998
31 Dec 1998

Norwegian lakes show widespread recovery from acidification; results from national surveys of lakewater chemistry 1986-1997

B. L. Skjelkvåle, R. F. Wright, and A. Henriksen

Abstract. Surveys of 485 lakes in Norway conducted in 1986 and again in 1995 reveal widespread chemical recovery from acidification. Sulphate concentrations in lakes have decreased by 40% in acidified areas in southern Norway. This decrease has been compensated about 25% by decreases in concentrations of base cations and of 75% by increased Acid Neutralising Capacity (ANC). The increased ANC in turn reflects lower concentrations of acidic cations Aluminum (ALn+) and Hydrogen (H+). A sub-set of 78 of the 485 lakes sampled yearly between 1986 and 1997 shows that, at first most of the decrease in non-marine sulphate (SO4*) was compensated by a decrease in base cations, such that ANC remained unchanged. Then as SO4* continued to decrease, the concentrations of non- marine calcium and magnesium ((Ca+Mg)*) levelled out. Consequently, ANC increased, and H+ and Aln+ started to decrease. In eastern Norway, this shift occurred in 1989–90, and came slightly later in southern and western Norway. Similar shifts in trends in about 1991–92 can also be seen in the non-acidified areas in central and northern Norway. This shift in trends is not as pronounced in western Norway, perhaps because of the confounding influence of sea-salt episodes on water chemistry. This is the first documented national-scale recovery from acidification due to reduced acid deposition. Future climate warming and potentially increased N-leaching can counteract the positive trends in recovery from acidification.

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