Modelling hydrochemical and ecological trends in acid sensitive surface waters in the Scottish Highlands


The dynamic model MAGIC is used to predict the future response of surface waters to reductions in S deposition as stipulated by the recently agreed emission protocol (the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol). MAGIC was calibrated to 30 sites in the Scottish mountains with the best available soil and deposition data derived from large scale spatial datasets, and surface water chemistry from a regional loch survey conducted in October 2000. A comparison of input parameters and model responses are made at Lochnagar, a site for which detailed, high resolution spatial/temporal data exist. The model is capable of reproducing observed trends in non-marine SO4 2-, however simulated NO3 - from 1990 to 2000 is lower than the observed trends at Lochnagar due to possible hydrological controls and in-lake processes, rather than terrestrial processes. The Scottish Highlands are remote from emission sources and consequently peak deposition inputs of S in the 1980s are relatively low (33 kg S ha-1 y-1) compared to other regions in Europe. Nonetheless the amount of deposition appears sufficient to cause environmental damage in this acid sensitive region. During the 1980s, simulated Acid Neutralising Capacity (ANC) of 13% of the modelled lakes was <20 μeq l-1, a chemical condition that potentially can cause damage to freshwater ecology. Regional and site simulations captured the recovery to 2000 in response to the existing emission reductions. Predictions to 2016 indicates the potential for biological recovery and a return to 'good status' as required by the EU Water Framework Directive, although the hydrochemistry of some sites remain some way from simulated pre-acidification conditions.



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Original Articles
acid deposition, recovery, ecology, scale, Scotland
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How to Cite
HELLIWELL RC, KERNAN M. Modelling hydrochemical and ecological trends in acid sensitive surface waters in the Scottish Highlands. J Limnol [Internet]. 2004Feb.1 [cited 2021Jun.13];63(1):111-22. Available from: