Climate-change set-back for acidified rivers

December 12, 2008

Climate change is hampering the long-term recovery of rivers from the effects of acid rain, as wet weather counteracts improvements, according to a new study by Cardiff University.

The research, by Professor Steve Ormerod and Dr Isabelle Durance of the School of Biosciences, took place over a 25 year period around Llyn Brianne in mid-Wales. Their findings are published online today in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology.

Carried out in 14 streams, the research involved assessing the number and variety of stream insects present each year. The scientists measured concentrations of acid and other aspects of stream chemistry, and documented climatic variation such as warmer, wetter winters.

With average acidity in rivers falling due to improvements in the levels of acid rain, the researchers expected that up to 29 insect species to have re-colonised the less acidic Welsh streams. These included sensitive mayflies and other groups often eaten by trout and salmon.

The findings however, showed a large short-fall in biological recovery, with just four new insect species added to the recovering rivers sampled.

Professor Steve Ormerod, who has led the project since it began in the early 1980s, said "Since the 1970s, there have been huge efforts to clean-up sources of acid rain, and our research shows that rivers are heading in the right direction. However, our results support the theory that acid conditions during rainstorms kill sensitive animals. During recent wetter winters, upland streams have been acidified enough to cancel out up to 40 percent of the last 25 years' improvements: climatic effects have clearly worked against our best efforts."

Dr Isabelle Durance, who co-authored the paper said: "More and more evidence now shows that some of the worst effects of climate-change on natural habitats come from interactions with existing stressors - in this case acid rain. A wider suggestion from our research is that by reducing these other environmental problems, we can minimise at least some climate-change impacts."

Source: Cardiff University

Explore further: Wetlands could be key in revitalizing acid streams, researchers say

Related Stories

Changing river chemistry affects Eastern US water supplies

August 26, 2013

Human activities are changing the basic chemistry of many rivers in the Eastern U.S. in ways that have potentially major consequences for urban water supplies and aquatic ecosystems, a University of Maryland-led study has ...

Science nabs illegal ivory sellers

March 9, 2015

A Toronto-based company has been convicted of selling illegal ivory in the first case to use a technique for dating ivory developed by a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with other colleagues.

Why is Venus so horrible?

December 19, 2014

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you dead in moments.

Recommended for you

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Noein
2.5 / 5 (4) Dec 12, 2008
Since this article has "climate change" in its title, it poses a threat to my deep religious faith in global warming denialism. I will therefore ignore the contents of this article entirely and will move on to my favorite global warming denialism blog to reaffirm my faith and confess my sins.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2008
Wasn't this in physorg a month or two ago?
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (1) Dec 17, 2008
Wasn't this in physorg a month or two ago?


Nope, it was on the 3rd of this month, verbatim: http://www.physor...680.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.