News archive

The following news items were first published on our previous website.


UK UWMN data used in ICP Waters report on acidified European and North American surface waters

Data from UK UWMN sites have been included in an ICP Waters report 142-2020Trends and patterns in surface water chemistry in Europe and North America between 1990 and 2016, with particular focus on changes in land use as a confounding factor for recovery.


UK UWMN water chemistry data used by the Office for National Statistics

UK UWMN water chemistry data have been used by the Office for National Statistics in a new report: UK natural capital: mountains, moorland and heath accounts. Summaries shown include non-marine sulphate, nitrate, acid neutralising capacity, pH and dissolved organic carbon.


UK UWMN data used in further ICP Waters study of invertebrate biodiverity trends related to climate and water chemistry

UK UWMN authors, and data from 17 sites, contributed to the ICP Waters report: Biodiversity of macro-invertebrates in acid-sensitive waters: trends and relations to water chemistry and climate.


UK UWMN paper published on post wildfire impacts at Blue Lough

A UK UWMN paper has been published in the journal Ecosystems on the effects of wildfire at Blue Lough in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland: Sustained Biogeochemical Impacts of Wildfire in a Mountain Lake Catchment.


UK UWMN Food web study published

UK UWMN data have been used to construct 442 stream and lake food webs in a study in the journal Advances in Ecological Research, titled Recovery and Nonrecovery of Freshwater Food Webs from the Effects of Acidification.


UK UWMN findings feature in New Scientist article and leader on Dissolved Organic Carbon and "global browning"

Chris Evans from the UK UWMN is quoted discussing research from the Network in New Scientist magazine, in an article titled Global browning: Why the world’s fresh water is getting murkier. The leader can be read here.


UK UWMN data used to develop a model for dissolved organic carbon concentrations in upland waters

UK UWMN data and authors have contributed to a paper in Biogeochemistry titled Spatial controls on dissolved organic carbon in upland waters inferred from a simple statistical model.


UK UWMN data used in meta-analysis paper on acidified European and North American surface waters

Data from six UK UWMN sites have been included in an ICP Waters paper in Water Air and Soil Pollution titled Trends in Surface Water Chemistry in Acidified Areas in Europe and North America from 1990 to 2008.


UK UWMN data used in pan-European study of trends in biological diversity of benthic invertebrates from acid-sensitive lakes and rivers

UK UWMN data and authors contributed to the ICP Waters report Biodiversity in freshwaters: temporal trends and response to water chemistry.


UK UWMN Special Issue of the journal Ecological Indicators

In late 2013 the UK UWMN consortium produced a 12 paper special issue of Ecological Indicators, titled Threats to upland waters.


DEFRA Press Release: Acid rain: 20 years on...

Chances are that back in the 1980s, acid rain would have been high on everyone’s list of environmental concerns. But what exactly is acid rain and is it something we should still be concerned about?

report published today by the Acid Waters Monitoring Network (AWMN) shows that UK policies put into place some 20 years ago to reduce acidifying pollution have been successful and as a result waters in the UK are now beginning to recover.

However it’s not all good news — whilst the waters are recovering, there is still a long way to go before the plant and animal communities are restored to full health. For example there are many rivers and lakes still devoid of brown trout or salmon as a result of the damage caused by acid rain. There is also increasing concern that the recovery will be limited by other factors such as future climate change, meaning that further emission reductions may be necessary.

As a basic explanation, acid rain is caused by the burning of fossil fuels; burning oil, gas and coal in power stations releases sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) into the atmosphere. Motor vehicles add further nitrogen oxides and then when these gases mix with water droplets in the atmosphere they create weak solutions of nitric and sulphuric acids. These solutions can then fall to the earth as 'acid' rain increasing the acidity levels of soils, acidifying rivers and lakes, especially those in the uplands, and creating a toxic environment for aquatic life. Over the past 22 years, these levels have been monitored and it’s this evidence, in addition to impacts of other pollution, types of land-use and climate change, that’s been drawn together into the AWMN report.

Environment Minister Lord Henley said:

"This report shows the impact of 20 years of Defra policies to tackle acid rain and the environmental damage it causes. It also demonstrates the opportunity we have to build on this success through forthcoming international agreements that will allow us to return damaged rivers and lakes to a healthy state where fish such as trout and salmon can flourish."

In the near future, emissions of the pollutants which cause acid rain are expected to continue to reduce. This will help to create the conditions in which our damaged lakes and rivers can carry on recovering. To achieve the even higher reductions which will be necessary for continued recovery in the face of climate change, Defra is playing a key role in a number of international agreements such as the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive and the Gothenburg Protocol, which is currently under review.

Importantly, Defra and its partner organisations will also continue to study rivers and lakes damaged by acid rain, helping us to monitor the pace.