Articles | Volume 8, issue 9
Research article
27 Sep 2011
Research article |  | 27 Sep 2011

The complementary power of pH and lake-water organic carbon reconstructions for discerning the influences on surface waters across decadal to millennial time scales

P. Rosén, R. Bindler, T. Korsman, T. Mighall, and K. Bishop

Abstract. Lysevatten, a lake in southwest Sweden, has experienced both acidification and recent changes in the amount of lake-water organic carbon (TOC), both causing concern across Europe and North America. A range of paleolimnological tools – diatom-inferred pH, inferred lake-water TOC from visible-near-infrared spectroscopy (VNIRS), multi-element geochemistry and pollen analysis, combined with geochemical modeling were used to reconstruct the lake's chemistry and surroundings back to the most recent deglaciation 12 500 years ago. The results reveal that the recent anthropogenic impacts are similar in magnitude to the long-term variation driven by natural catchment changes and early agricultural land use occurring over centuries and millennia. The combined reconstruction of both lake-water TOC and lithogenic element delivery can explain the major changes in lake-water pH and modeled acid neutralizing capacity during the past 12 500 years. The results raise important questions regarding what precisely comprises "reference" conditions (i.e., free from human impacts) as defined in the European Water Framework Directive.

Final-revised paper