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Clark J.M.,Imperial College London | Clark J.M.,University of Leeds | Bottrell S.H.,University of Leeds | Evans C.D.,Environment Center Wales | And 5 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2010

Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon have increased in many, but not all, surface waters across acid impacted areas of Europe and North America over the last two decades. Over the last eight years several hypotheses have been put forward to explain these increases, but none are yet accepted universally. Research in this area appears to have reached a stalemate between those favouring declining atmospheric deposition, climate change or land management as the key driver of long-term DOC trends. While it is clear that many of these factors influence DOC dynamics in soil and stream waters, their effect varies over different temporal and spatial scales. We argue that regional differences in acid deposition loading may account for the apparent discrepancies between studies. DOC has shown strong monotonic increases in areas which have experienced strong downward trends in pollutant sulphur and/or seasalt deposition. Elsewhere climatic factors, that strongly influence seasonality, have also dominated inter-annual variability, and here long-term monotonic DOC trends are often difficult to detect. Furthermore, in areas receiving similar acid loadings, different catchment characteristics could have affected the site specific sensitivity to changes in acidity and therefore the magnitude of DOC release in response to changes in sulphur deposition. We suggest that confusion over these temporal and spatial scales of investigation has contributed unnecessarily to the disagreement over the main regional driver(s) of DOC trends, and that the data behind the majority of these studies is more compatible than is often conveyed. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Norton L.R.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Maskell L.C.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Smart S.S.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Dunbar M.J.,CEH Wallingford | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Countryside Survey is a unique large scale long-term monitoring programme investigating stock and change of habitats, landscape features, vegetation, soil and freshwaters of Great Britain. Repeat field surveys combine policy and scientific objectives to provide evidence on how multiple aspects of the environment are changing over time, a key goal of international science in the face of profound human impacts on ecosystems. Countryside Survey 2007 (CS2007), the fifth survey since 1978, retained consistency with previous surveys, whilst evolving in line with technological and conceptual advances in the collection and integration of data to understand landscape change. This paper outlines approaches taken in the 2007 survey and its subsequent analysis and presents some of the headline results of the survey and their relevance for national and international policy objectives. Key changes between 1998 and 2007 included: a) significant shifts in agricultural land cover from arable to grassland, accompanied by increases in the area of broadleaved woodland, b) decreases in the length of managed hedges associated with agricultural land, as a proportion deteriorated to lines of trees and c) increases in the areas and numbers of wet habitats (standing open water, ponds) and species preferring wetter conditions (1998-2007 and 1978-2007). Despite international policy directed at maintaining and enhancing biodiversity, there were widespread decreases in species richness in all linear and area habitats, except on arable land, consistent with an increase in competitive and late successional species between 1998 and 2007 and 1978 and 2007. Late successional and competitive species: Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), Hawthorn (Cratageous monogyna) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), in the top ten recorded species recorded in 2007, all increased between 1998 and 2007. The most commonly recorded species in CS (1990, 1998 and 2007) was agricultural Ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Increases in both water quality and soil pH were in line with policy aimed at addressing previous deterioration of both. Headwater streams broadly showed continued improvements in biological quality from 1998 to 2007, continuing trends seen since 1990. In soils, there were significant increases in soil pH between 1998 and 2007 consistent with recovery from acidification. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Curtis C.J.,University College London | Evans C.D.,Environment Center Wales | Goodale C.L.,Cornell University | Heaton T.H.E.,NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory
Ecosystems | Year: 2011

Various studies over the last 15 years have attempted to describe the processes of N retention, saturation and NO3 - leaching in semi-natural ecosystems based on stable isotope studies. Forest ecologists and terrestrial biogeochemists have used 15N labelled NO3 - and NH4 + tracers to determine the fate of atmospheric deposition inputs of N to terrestrial ecosystems, with NO3 - leaching to surface waters being a key output flux. Separate studies by aquatic ecologists have used similar isotope tracer methods to determine the fate and impacts of inorganic N species, leached from terrestrial ecosystems, on aquatic ecosystems, usually without reference to comparable terrestrial studies. A third group of isotopic studies has employed natural abundances of 15N and 18O in precipitation and surface water NO3 - to determine the relative contributions of atmospheric and microbial sources. These three sets of results often appear to conflict with one another. Here we attempt to synthesize and reconcile the results of these differing approaches to identifying both the source and the fate of inorganic N in natural or semi-natural ecosystems, and identify future research priorities. We conclude that the results of different studies conform to a consistent conceptual model comprising: (1) rapid microbial turnover of atmospherically deposited NO3 - at multiple biologically active locations within both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; (2) maximum retention and accumulation of N in carbon-rich ecosystems and (3) maximum leaching of NO3 -, most of which has been microbially cycled, from carbon-poor ecosystems exposed to elevated atmospheric N inputs. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Jones T.G.,Wolfson Carbon Capture Laboratories | Evans C.D.,UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology | Jones D.L.,Environment Center Wales | Hill P.W.,Environment Center Wales | Freeman C.,Wolfson Carbon Capture Laboratories
Aquatic Sciences | Year: 2016

Peatlands export significant amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to freshwaters, but the quantity of DOC reaching marine environments is typically less than the input to the fluvial system due to processing within the water column. Key removal processes include photo-chemical degradation, and heterotrophic bacterial respiration. In this study we examined these processes using 14C-labelled DOC to quantify the extent of DOC breakdown and to determine its fate following irradiation under controlled laboratory conditions. We examined the influence of microbial processes occurring within the water column, the potential role of stream-bed biofilms, and the possible modifying effects of downstream mixing, as DOC in water from the peatland encounters runoff from upland mineral soils (“Mountain”), nutrient-rich runoff from agricultural soils, and seawater in an estuary. Our results demonstrated conservative mixing of DOC from Peatland and Mountain waters but interactive effects when Peatland water was mixed with Agricultural and Estuary waters and exposed to solar radiation. The mixing of Peatland and Agricultural waters led to net DOC production, suggesting that DOC was only partially degraded by solar radiation and that the products of this might have fuelled autotrophic microbial growth in the samples. The mixing of Peatland water with saline estuary water resulted in net DOC loss following irradiation, suggesting a role for sunlight in enhancing the flocculation of DOC to particulate organic carbon (POC) in saline environments. © 2015, Springer International Publishing.

Cooper D.M.,Environment Center Wales | Evans C.D.,Environment Center Wales | Norris D.,Environment Center Wales | Thacker S.,CEH Lancaster | Pereira M.G.,CEH Lancaster
Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts | Year: 2014

We use a simple multiplicative spatio-temporal model to describe variability in a sequence of water quality monitoring data from headwater streams in the Conwy catchment, North Wales. The spatial component of the model treats concentrations as due to simple mixing of a small number of distinct source types, each associated with particular upstream catchment characteristics. The temporal component allows concentration variability due to seasonal or hydrological change. We apply the model using three candidate catchment characteristic classifications to generate mixing concentrations, and a seasonal component to describe temporal variability, and test a range of sub-models. We identify a cross-classification of soil and land cover as providing the best spatial indicator of water quality of the classifications considered. The spatial model based on a selected grouped cross-classification was shown to account for between 35% and 90% of the spatial variability and the seasonal model accounted for between 45% and 100% of the temporal variability in the data. Analysis of residuals showed an inverse relationship between DOC and sulphate and between hydrogen ion concentration and calcium and magnesium. We also found residual correlations between sites which are strongly related to landscape class. These are attributed to landscape class by time interactions which are not accounted for in the simple multiplicative model. This journal is © the Partner Organisations 2014.

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