Results from the Covered Catchment Experiment at Gårdsjön, Sweden, after Ten Years of Clean Precipitation Treatment

Authors: Moldan, Filip; Skeffington, Richard; Mörth, Carl-Magnus; Torssander, Peter; Hultberg, Hans; Munthe, John

Source: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Volume 154, Numbers 1-4, May 2004 , pp. 371-384(14)

Publisher: Springer

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The Covered Catchment Experiment at Gårdsjön is a large scale forest ecosystem manipulation, where acid precipitation was intercepted by a 7000 m2 plastic roof and replaced by `clean precipitation' sprinkled below the roof for ten years between 1991 and 2001. The treatment resulted in a strong positive response of runoff quality. The runoff sulphate, inorganic aluminium and base cations decreased, while there was a strong increase in runoff ANC and a moderate increase in pH. The runoff continued to improve over the whole duration of the experiment. The achieved quality was, however, after ten years still considerably worse than estimated pre-industrial runoff at the site. Stable isotopes of sulphur were analysed to study the soil sulphur cycling. At the initial years of the experiment, the desorption of SO4 from the mineral soil appeared to control the runoff SO4 concentration. However, as the experiment proceeded, there was growing evidence that net mineralisation of soil organic sulphur in the humus layer was an additional source of SO4 in runoff. This might provide a challenge to current acidification models. The experiment convincingly demonstrated on a catchment scale, that reduction in acid deposition causes an immediate improvement of surface water quality even at heavily acidified sites. The improvement of the runoff appeared to be largely a result of cation exchange processes in the soil due to decreasing concentrations of the soil solution, while any potential change in soil base saturation seemed to be less important for the runoff chemistry over the short time period of one decade. These findings should be considered when interpreting and extrapolating regional trends in surface water chemistry to the terrestrial parts of ecosystems.

Keywords: Gårdsjön; Sweden; acid deposition; catchment manipulations; deposition reduction; recovery; roof experiment; sulphur

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: May 1, 2004

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