Recovery of soil water, groundwater and streamwater from acidification at the Swedish Integrated Monitoring catchments

Recovery from anthropogenic acidification in streams and lakes is well documented across the northern hemisphere. In this study, we use 1996–2009 data from the four Swedish Integrated Monitoring catchments to evaluate how the declining sulfur deposition has affected sulfate, pH, acid neutralizing capacity, ionic strength, aluminum, and dissolved organic carbon in soil water, groundwater and runoff.

Differences in recovery rates between catchments, between recharge and discharge areas and between soil water and groundwater are assessed. At the IM sites, atmospheric deposition is the main human impact. The chemical trends were weakly correlated to the sulfur deposition decline.

Other factors, such as marine influence and catchment features, seem to be as important. Except for pH and DOC, soil water and groundwater showed similar trends. Discharge areas acted as buffers, dampening the trends in streamwater. Further monitoring and modeling of these hydraulically active sites should be encouraged.

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