From: Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research - UFZ
Published November 21, 2016 02:47 PM

The decline in emissions also has negative implications

In large parts of Europe and North America, the decline in industrial emissions over the past 20 years has reduced pollution of the atmosphere and in turn of soils and water in many natural areas. The fact that this positive development can also have negative implications for these regions has been demonstrated by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in the journal Global Change Biology. According to their findings, declining nitrate concentrations in the riparian soils surrounding the tributary streams of reservoirs are responsible for the increasing release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and phosphate and a deterioration in water quality. In the case of drinking water reservoirs this can cause considerable problems with respect to water treatment.

Due to the burning of biomass and fossil fuels and, above all, due to agriculture, excessive quantities of reactive nitrogen are still being released into the atmosphere, soil and water - with negative effects on biodiversity, the climate and human health. However, a differentiated analysis of nitrogen input pathways from the different sources reveals significant differences. 

While nitrogen inputs into soils - primarily due to agriculture - have elevated nitrate concentrations in the groundwater of many regions to values above the threshold of 50 mg per litre, atmospheric pollution is decreasing in large parts of Europe and North America due to emission-reducing measures.

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Photo Credits: UFZ / André Künzelmann  

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