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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Acidification of mountain lakes: palaeolimnology and ecology,remote mountain lakes as indicators of air pollution and climate change


To achieve a more complete understanding of the structure and functioning of a wide range of remote mountain lakes in view of their responses to varying levels of acid deposition and of their role as potential reference sites for climate and environmental change research.

The "ALPE 2" project represents an enlargement in scope and geographical coverage of the ongoing "ALPE 1" project in the STEP Programme. In addition to the remote mountain lakes in the highlands of Norway and Scotland, in the Italian and South Tyrolian parts of the Alps and the French part of the Pyrenees considered in "ALPE 1", the "ALPE 2" project extends the investigations on lake sediments, water chemistry, diatom, invertebrate and fish fauna on lakes in Spitzbergen (Svalbard), the Irish highlands, Austrian Alps, the Czechoslovakian and Polish parts of the High Tatra mountains, the Spanish part of the Pyrenees, the Sierra Nevada in Spain and the Sierra d'Estrela in Portugal. Overall, in 20 remote lakes, situated above the local timberline, seasonal changes in major limnological, chemical and biological parameters will be studied in function of the air pollution deposition and of climatic factors. The investigations on lakes in the ongoing "ALPE 1" project will be extended towards the determination of zooplankton (inventory and changes), the consideration of organic matter loading, the evolution of decomposition of plant material, trace metals, sulphate reduction capacity, and contamination by persistent organic compounds in selected lakes.

The whole coordinated measurement programme will be subject to stringent quality control measures, extensive statistical analysis and empirical modelling of palaeolimnological, limnological, biological and chemical data to:

- quantitatively reconstruct the historical development and to estimate the likelihood of future development of lake water pH;
- to quantify the relationships between invertebrate assemblages and water chemistry (canonical correspondence analysis and weighted averaging);
- to quantify the relationships between fish populations and environmental conditions;
- to test for patterns of variation in lake-water chemistry within and between lakes over time (redundancy analysis, trend analysis, Monte Carlo permutation tests);

Finally it is intended to identify "critical sulphur and nitrogen loads" and "recommended target loads" for those remote mountain areas, to apply biological data to the establishment of guidelines for good monitoring and management practices, to establish baseline conditions for the long-term evaluation of impacts of climatic and environmental change.

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Bedford Way 26
United Kingdom

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