Menu

UCL Department of Geography

Home

Description Photo Here

Personal tools
Log in
This is SunRain Plone Theme
UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  November 2012  /  Critical loads of acid deposition are still exceeded in some of the most sensitive upland regions of Scotland

Critical loads of acid deposition are still exceeded in some of the most sensitive upland regions of Scotland

Sunday Herald features Freshwater Umbrella and ECRC Acid Water Monitoring Network

Critical loads of acid deposition are still exceeded in some of the most sensitive upland regions of Scotland

The October 21st edition of the Glasgow Sunday Herald included an article based on the Environmental Change Research Centres’ work on the acidification of UK lakes and streams, including 850 lochs in the most sensitive areas of Scotland.

Professor Rick Battarbee and colleagues at UCL provided crucial evidence in the 1980s  linking surface water acidification to “acid rain” from fossil fuel combustion. Defra then began a programme to reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gas emissions from UK power stations and other sources. The ECRC’s research switched from the causes of acidification to focus on lake and stream recovery. A key contribution was made by Dr Chris Curtis (now at the University of Witwatersrand) who used a "critical loads" concept to develop a chemical model relating acid deposition to "ecological damage". This enabled a UK map to be created showing where acid deposition exceeded the critical load, damaging lake and stream biology, especially brown trout populations.

Emissions of sulphur dioxide have been reduced by about 90% in the past 30 years, with an associated reduction in sulphur deposition. Questions nevertheless remain about whether there have been improvements to match in lake and stream chemistry and biology. Earlier this year, Defra published a major report which included data provided by Chris and Rick showing that lakes and streams are improving but not as fast as air quality.  This is mainly because it takes time for the pollutants accumulated in catchment soils over 200 years to be removed. Nitrogen deposition, although significantly lower than 20 years ago, also remains high.

The Herald article points out that a dozen countries across Europe are still breaching air-pollution safety limits, with the European Environment Agency Executive Director declaring that "Member states have even further to catch up on air pollution when the latest science is taken into account." Rick Battarbee adds that, “Whether a full recovery will eventually take place is hard to say, especially as future climate change may offset some of the expected gains.”

See:

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/revealed-the-200-scottish-lochs-polluted-by-acid-rain.19194082


Image

Professor Rick Battarbee


Related content
Rick Battarbee
Navigation
Tweets from @UCLgeography
@UCLgeography