Lakes are browner in the south than in the north of Sweden despite similar levels of dissolved iron

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Akademin för ekonomi, teknik och naturvetenskap

Abstract: During recent decades many lakes have become browner in the northern hemisphere and more specific in Sweden. This process is called brownification. Brownification of lakes makes it more difficult to clean water to drinking water and may have negative ecological effects on biota. Browning of lakes is generally thought to be caused by an increase of humic substances that consist of organic matter which colour the water brown or yellow. However, more recent studies show that dissolved iron can interact with humic substances in browning lakes. Since the concentrations of dissolved iron have increased during recent years and the mechanisms behind brownification and the contribution of iron to this process is not clearly understood it is important to investigate this subject. In this study 17 lakes in south of Sweden were sampled for iron concentration, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), absorbance (420nm) and pH. Further, data was added about atmospheric sulphur deposition and additional data from 17 lakes in the north part of Sweden. Iron had a stronger significant correlation towards absorbance than DOC had in the south of Sweden. A similar amount of dissolved iron seems to colour lakes differently based on their location in Sweden. This indicates that different mechanisms are involved in the interaction between iron and absorbance. However, pH had a stronger relationship with absorbance than either DOC or iron. Overall results suggested that iron do have a strong browning effect on Swedish fresh water lakes in the presence of DOC and that iron-increase driven processes may be due to a change of pH.

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