Streamwater responses to reduced nitrogen deposition at four small upland catchments in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionKaste, Ø., Austnes, K., de Wit, H. (2020). Streamwater responses to reduced nitrogen deposition at four small upland catchments in Norway. Ambio. doi: 10.1007/s13280-020-01347-3
Reduced emissions of nitrogen (N) in Europe have resulted in decreasing atmospheric deposition since 1990. Long-term data (1988–2017) from four small Norwegian catchments located along gradients in N deposition, rainfall, and organic carbon (C) show different responses to 25–30% reductions in N deposition during the same period. At three sites the decreased N deposition caused reduced leaching of nitrate to surface water, whereas the westernmost site showed no decrease, probably due to thin soils with low C:N ratio, poor vegetation cover and high precipitation. The loss of total N to streamwater constituted 30–50% of the N deposition. Losses via denitrification are unknown but assumed to be low, as a major fraction of the catchments are well-drained. Hence, the study sites seem to continue to accumulate N, presumably mostly in soil organic matter. Although atmospheric N deposition has declined, ambient loads might still exceed long-term sustainable levels in these vulnerable ecosystems.