THE USE OF A GIS-BASED INVENTORY TO PROVIDE A REGIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT OF STANDING WATERS IN GREAT BRITAIN SENSITIVE TO ACIDIFICATION FROM ATMOSPHERIC DEPOSITION

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Abstract

Previous attempts to identify regions of Britain vulnerable to acidification have used sensitivity maps based on the distribution of soils, geology, and land cover across Great Britain. Additionally, a systematic survey of freshwaters undertaken as part of the U.K. critical loads mapping programme provides a regional assessment of both sensitivity (critical loads) and, in tandem with deposition data, potential impact (critical load exceedance). Both approaches, while useful for identifying regional patterns, do not enable estimates of the number of affected water bodies to be made. Recent EU legislation (e.g., The Water Framework Directive) requires member states to set water quality objectives for all water bodies. We developed a GIS-based inventory of standing water bodies in response to the need for legislation-driven assessments of the status of the U.K. lake population. This paper describes how the inventory can be used to assess the number of standing water bodies in Britain that are vulnerable to acid deposition (at current levels), building on the sensitivity mapping undertaken previously. Using this approach, approximately 31% of all standing waters in Great Britain (excluding the Shetlands and Orkney) larger than 0.02 ha are identified as ‘at risk’ from acidification. Higher proportions are vulnerable in Scotland and Wales. Additionally, large numbers of standing waters in areas designated for environmental protection purposes are also vulnerable.

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