Spatially valid data of atmospheric deposition of heavy metals and nitrogen derived by moss surveys for pollution risk assessments of ecosystems
For analysing element input into ecosystems and associated risks due to atmospheric deposition, element concentrations in moss provide complementary and time-integrated data at high spatial resolution every 5 years since 1990. The paper reviews (1) minimum sample sizes needed for reliable, statistical estimation of mean values at four different spatial scales (European and national level as well as landscape-specific level covering Europe and single countries); (2) trends of heavy metal (HM) and nitrogen (N) concentrations in moss in Europe (1990-2010); (3) correlations between concentrations of HM in moss and soil specimens collected across Norway (1990-2010); and (4) canopy drip-induced site-specific variation of N concentration in moss sampled in seven European countries (1990-2013).
While the minimum sample sizes on the European and national level were achieved without exception, for some ecological land classes and elements, the coverage with sampling sites should be improved. The decline in emission and subsequent atmospheric deposition of HM across Europe has resulted in decreasing HM concentrations in moss between 1990 and 2010. In contrast, hardly any changes were observed for N in moss between 2005, when N was included into the survey for the first time, and 2010. In Norway, both, the moss and the soil survey data sets, were correlated, indicating a decrease of HM concentrations in moss and soil. At the site level, the average N deposition inside of forests was almost three times higher than the average N deposition outside of forests.