Atmospheric deposition chemistry in a subalpine area of the Julian Alps, North-West Slovenia

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Gregor Muri *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Gregor Muri | gregor.muri@zzv-kr.si

Abstract

Wet-only precipitation was collected in Rateče, a remote village in the outskirts of the Julian Alps (Nort-West Slovenia) during 2003-2011, in order to characterise atmospheric deposition chemistry. The samples were collected on a daily basis and combined into weekly samples that were analysed for pH, conductivity and major anions and cations. Ammonium, nitrate and sulphate were the most abundant ions, exhibiting volume-weighted mean values (2003-2011) of 22, 17 and 17 µeq L–1, respectively. Furthermore, the trends of the major parameters in the precipitation were assessed using a simple linear regression. A significant downward trend of both nitrate and sulphate was observed, explained by evident reductions in NOx and SOx emissions in the region. The decline of nitrate and sulphate was also reflected in a significant and downward trend of conductivity. While the trend of ammonium could also be downward, the trends of other major ions were not significant. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition, representing inorganic forms of nitrogen (i.e., ammonium and nitrate), was calculated to examine potential threats that the deposition of nitrogen may cause on lake ecosystems. Nitrogen deposition in Rateče ranged from 5.5 to 9.5 kg N ha–1 yr–1. Although this was below the critical threshold that might cause an impact on surface waters, nitrogen deposition in the nearby Julian Alps, where sensitive mountain lakes are situated, might be higher and its impact on the ecosystem greater. In fact, several studies performed on water chemistry, sedimentary organic matter and stable isotopes in Slovenian mountain lakes have shown progressive changes in their water columns and sediments that can be attributed to nitrogen deposition.



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