Trends in precipitation and streamwater chemistry in East Creek watershed in southwestern British Columbia, 1971–2008

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Michael C. FELLER *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Michael C. FELLER | feller@interchange.ubc.ca

Abstract

Bulk precipitation and streamwater in a small, undisturbed, forested watershed in southwestern British Columbia were sampled regularly and analyzed for dissolved chemical constituents from 1971 to 2008. Concentrations and fluxes of most chemicals in precipitation and streamwater have exhibited considerable yearly variation. Temporal trends, when they have occurred, have rarely been consistent for the entire 1972–2008 time period. Precipitation has exhibited a decline in electrical conductivity, a decline in NH4, inorganic-N, and total-N concentrations and fluxes since the 1980s, an increase in pH, a decline in acid H fluxes since ~1990, and a decrease in SO4 concentrations and fluxes from 1980 until the late 1990s. Streamwater has exhibited an increase in NO3 concentrations and fluxes until the late 1990s, an increase in pH and decrease in acid H fluxes since the early 1990s, a decrease in SO4 concentrations and fluxes from ~1980 until ~2000, and increases in Na and Cl concentrations and fluxes until ~2000. Critical precipitation SO4 and inorganic-N loads have probably been exceeded for most years. East Ck. watershed has continuously experienced net inflows of all forms of N and acid H, and net outflows of dissolved Si, Na, Mg, and Ca. Net inflows of inorganic forms of N and total-N have decreased since the early 1980s. Net acid H inflows have decreased since the early 1990s, while net Na and Cl outflows increased until ~2000. The contribution of nutrient cycling processes within the watershed to the changes is currently unknown.

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