Acid Neutralising Capacity (ANC), calculated as the difference between base cations and acid anions, is widely used as a measure of freshwater acid status, and an indicator of biological conditions. Unlike pH and alkalinity, ANC is conservative with respect to CO2 degassing and reactions with aluminium or organic species. However, since ANC is calculated as the residual of a large number of individual ion determinations, it is potentially sensitive even to relatively small analytical errors. For the Round Loch of Glenhead, SW Scotland, consistency of ANC estimation has been assessed based on a duplicate set of major ion analyses undertaken at different laboratories over an 11 year period. Results indicate that, while the two sets of individual ion determinations correspond well, correlation between calculated ANC values is poor. Consequently, estimated ANC trends exhibit severe discrepancies between datasets; one indicates substantial recovery, the other no apparent trend. These problems with ANC estimation are believed to be general to acidic waters and are of particular concern for long-term monitoring, where ANC changes may be small and difficult to detect (although nonetheless potentially biologically significant). In these situations, it is possible that a more stable measurement of ANC may be obtainable based on titration alkalinity, DOC and aluminium concentrations. Using this method, a small but highly consistent increase in ANC is observed over the study period, although much of this can be attributed to a shift from mineral to organic acidity, rather than an overall reduction in acidity.
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- Assessing the Suitability of Acid Neutralising Capacity as a Measure of Long-Term Trends in Acidic Waters Based on Two Parallel Datasets
C. D. Evans
D. T. Monteith
- Springer Netherlands