Dan Aamlid

Head of Department/Head of Research

(+47) 915 21 025
dan.aamlid@nibio.no

Place
Ås H7

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 7, 1433 Ås

Abstract

Extended summary and conclusions The Pechenganikel combine in the Nikel-Zapolyarny area was established in 1933. During the first 30 years of production, 100 000 tons of sulphur dioxide (SO2) were emitted annually. Since 1971, nickel from the Norilsk ores in Siberia have been processed in the smelters. The Norilsk ore contains more sulphur than the Nikel ore. As a result of the processing of this sulphur-rich ore, emissions of SO2 increased rapidly, reaching 400 000 tons in 1979. Current annual emissions are much lower, about 150 000 tons. However, the present emission is still above the critical level for sensitive biota in the Nikel-Pasvik area. Investigations of soils show that the soil layers are contaminated by heavy metals (nickel and copper). The results also indicate an influence on soil fertility expressed as changes in base saturation (BS), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil acidity. According to the calculations (critical loads) future sulphur deposition has to be reduced to very low levels in order to stop the ongoing soil acidification. Air pollution influence has had severe effects on forest vegetation in the Nikel-Pasvik area. Trees, vascular plants, mosses and lichens are all affected. In the close vicinity of the smelters forests are dead or severely damaged. Visible injuries to vegetation caused by SO2 have some years been frequent. Symptoms are recognised on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and downy birch (Betula pubescens), which are the dominant tree species in the region, and on other plants, e.g. dwarf birch (Betula nana) and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). The species composition of the ground vegetation in the forest has been influenced, and epiphytic lichen vegetation has been severely influenced over large areas. Critical levels are exceeded on more than 3200 square kilometres of Russian and Norwegian territory. Air pollution has reduced invertebrate and animal diversity due to lack of forest vegetation and contamination of surface soils in the vicinity of the nickel smelters. Small vertebrates are impacted by an increased heavy metal content in the liver. However, no negative health effects to reindeer are foreseen. Long-term monitoring of water chemistry in lakes and rivers has revealed that extensive surface water acidification has taken place, particularly on the Norwegian side of the border. Critical loads are exceeded in large areas of Sør-Varanger municipality, especially in the Jarfjord area, and in areas situated around Nikel and Zapolyarny. However, on the Russian side, the contamination of lakes by the heavy metals (nickel and copper) is more severe than acidification, especially in the vicinity of the smelters, where damage to fish populations as well as phytoplankton and invertebrate communities are observed. Studies of human health in the Nikel-Pasvik area revealed no major health effects that can be ascribed to the air pollution by nickel and sulphur dioxide in the Nikel-Zapolyarny area or in the Pasvik valley. The most severe effects of air pollution in the border areas between Norway and Russia, caused by sulphur dioxide emission from Nikel and Zapolyarny, on the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems seem to be on vegetation, surface water and soils, and thus also on other compartments of the ecosystem.

Abstract

The Pasvik River valley is the easternmost part of Norway, and borders to Finland and Russia. In Norway it is known for its wilderness and taiga forests. During the 1960-1970s most of the mature pine forests were harvested, and large areas of pine stands have been naturally regenerated. In addition, large areas are covered with birch. The Pasvik River valley and the adjoining areas are therefore important both as an area for growing timber resources and for recreation. However, these areas have also been exposed to air pollution from Russian smelting industry since the 1930s. In addition to sulphur dioxide, emissions consist of various heavy metals which contaminate the surroundings. The main pollution source is the huge nickel plant in the Russian city Nikel, located only 10 km from the Norwegian border. For a long time there was general concern for the quality of the forest ecosystems in these areas. This concern accelerated in the mid-1980s.

Abstract

The chapter reviews the available literature about the adverse effects of excess nickel on plants and their adaptation mechanisms. The study is focused on forest ecosystems exposed to extreme air pollution from the nickel-processing industry in Northern Fennoscandia. Long-term deposition of heavy metals and sulphur has caused strong soil contamination and severe damage to trees and ground vegetation, their structure, composition and chemistry. Tree leaves, branches and bark as well as dwarf shrubs, mosses and lichens show clearly elevated concentrations of nickel and copper in the surroundings of the smelters. Multivariate analyses show that changes in the element composition of plants depend both on air pollution and on natural factors. Besides direct input of pollutants from atmosphere, soil contamination and nutritional disturbance contribute significantly to the observed changes. Despite decline in emissions, extreme pool of heavy metals accumulated in surface soils is expected to influence plant metabolism and chemistry over a long period of time.

Abstract

The joint network of tree crown condition monitoring under the EU and ICP Forests operates at two levels, a systematic extensive approach (Level I) based on a 16 km x 16 km trans-national grid of sample plots (>6000 plots) and an intensive approach (Level II) on more than 800 plots across continental Europe. Three ongoing projects embrace the different levels of monitoring, the above mentioned Level I and Level II systems, and the National Forest Inventories (NFIs). All of the three projects are based on a stand structure approach that assumes an increased potential for species diversity with increasing complexity of stand structure. An intensive test-phase of forest biodiversity assessment at more than 100 Level II plots, known as ForestBIOTA is underway during 2005. This project aims to test standardized methods of forest biodiversity assessment in the field and examine the relationship between stand structure, forest deadwood, ground vegetation and epiphytic lichens. A forest classification of the plots is also included. A separate approach, known as BioSoil (due to its combination with a detailed chemical inventory of the soils) is a demonstration project which aims to record indicators of forest biodiversity at the extensive Level I plots. Practical measures of stand structure, including records of tree species, lists of vascular plant species, and simple measures of forest deadwood are included for field assessment during 2006. A pan-European forest type classification elaborating on the EUNIS system and including the Natura 2000 habitat types is proposed. These initiatives are linked to a third project, COMON, operating at the level of the National Forest Inventories aiming to test the same core variables at national levels.

Abstract

Intensive monitoring plots of the ICP Forests gathered an amount of data about the ground vegetation in forest ecosystems throughout Europe. Each Country, applying different field techniques, conform to common rules of procedure, under the suggestions of a dedicated Expert Panel which implemented a Unified Coded Flora and comparability targets. Data series are foreseen to contribute to: definition of the forest ecosystem state and changes evaluation; assessment of the specific plant diversity at the ecosystems level. The contribution to scientific knowledge and to Global and Pan-European biodiversity initiatives and networks (ICP-IM, MCPFE, CBD, Forest BIOTA, ALTER-net, etc.) are also underlined. In spite of site-related data, first results (more than 670 plots, with large differences in plant diversity) depict the linkages with temperature, precipitation, dominant tree species and actual soil acidity. Nitrogen deposition seems to have some significant influence, which claims to further studies. Plant data series from ICP Forest’s plot, can be used for on-site confirmation of models including biodiversity k-factors and environment relations.

Abstract

Areas near the Norwegian-Russian border are being strongly contaminated by heavy metal emissions from copper-nickel smelters in the Kola peninsula. The present report presents data for the four elements arsenic, chromium, cobalt, and selenium in vegetation sampled in eastern Finmark, obtained by neutron activation analysis. It is no doubt that the smelters in Nikel and Zapolyarny, constitute the main source of these elements in this area. Some chromium comes from local domestic sources. Still, however, the concentration of these elements in soil and vegetation are probably too low as such to represent any harm to the ecosystem.

Abstract

Extended summary and conclusions The Pechenganikel combine in the Nikel-Zapolyarny area was established in 1933. During the first 30 years of production, 100 000 tons of sulphur dioxide (SO2) were emitted annually. Since 1971, nickel from the Norilsk ores in Siberia have been processed in the smelters. The Norilsk ore contains more sulphur than the Nikel ore. As a result of the processing of this sulphur-rich ore, emissions of SO2 increased rapidly, reaching 400 000 tons in 1979. Current annual emissions are much lower, about 150 000 tons. However, the present emission is still above the critical level for sensitive biota in the Nikel-Pasvik area. Investigations of soils show that the soil layers are contaminated by heavy metals (nickel and copper). The results also indicate an influence on soil fertility expressed as changes in base saturation (BS), cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil acidity. According to the calculations (critical loads) future sulphur deposition has to be reduced to very low levels in order to stop the ongoing soil acidification. Air pollution influence has had severe effects on forest vegetation in the Nikel-Pasvik area. Trees, vascular plants, mosses and lichens are all affected. In the close vicinity of the smelters forests are dead or severely damaged. Visible injuries to vegetation caused by SO2 have some years been frequent. Symptoms are recognised on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and downy birch (Betula pubescens), which are the dominant tree species in the region, and on other plants, e.g. dwarf birch (Betula nana) and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). The species composition of the ground vegetation in the forest has been influenced, and epiphytic lichen vegetation has been severely influenced over large areas. Critical levels are exceeded on more than 3200 square kilometres of Russian and Norwegian territory. Air pollution has reduced invertebrate and animal diversity due to lack of forest vegetation and contamination of surface soils in the vicinity of the nickel smelters. Small vertebrates are impacted by an increased heavy metal content in the liver. However, no negative health effects to reindeer are foreseen. Long-term monitoring of water chemistry in lakes and rivers has revealed that extensive surface water acidification has taken place, particularly on the Norwegian side of the border. Critical loads are exceeded in large areas of Sør-Varanger municipality, especially in the Jarfjord area, and in areas situated around Nikel and Zapolyarny. However, on the Russian side, the contamination of lakes by the heavy metals (nickel and copper) is more severe than acidification, especially in the vicinity of the smelters, where damage to fish populations as well as phytoplankton and invertebrate communities are observed. Studies of human health in the Nikel-Pasvik area revealed no major health effects that can be ascribed to the air pollution by nickel and sulphur dioxide in the Nikel-Zapolyarny area or in the Pasvik valley. The most severe effects of air pollution in the border areas between Norway and Russia, caused by sulphur dioxide emission from Nikel and Zapolyarny, on the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems seem to be on vegetation, surface water and soils, and thus also on other compartments of the ecosystem.

Abstract

This study shows that it is questionable if critical load modelling can contribute in the search for harmful effects of acid deposition on forest health at present. Critical loads for S and N deposition were calculated using the MAGIC and PROFILE models for more than 100 monitoring plots in Norway spruce forest in south-east Norway. The two models gave different results, likely due to differences in the models, including differences in the time spans applied. The PROFILE model gave considerably more plots with exceedance than the MAGIC model. At plots where the CL was exceeded, calcium/aluminium (Ca/Al) ratios in the soil solutions were low. However, very few of these plots had possible harmful values of the Ca/Al-ratio. More than 50 yr seems in most cases to be needed to bring Ca/Al ratios below 1.0. Present deposition was better correlated with measured forest condition variables such as crown condition and needle chemistry, than with modelled exceedance according to any of the two methods. The deposition of S and N was weakly, negatively correlated to foliar concentrations of P and Ca, and positively to foliar N concentrations and crown density.

Abstract

Several strong westerly storms hit Western Norway during the winter of 1986-87. We studied the uptake, loss and visible effects of sea salt aerosols in Scots pine and Norway spruce. Foliage of was sampled at distances 0-100 km from the coastline between 59¢ª and 65¢ª N, and analysed for chloride, sodium and other elements. The range of chloride and sodium concentrations in needles was 0.5-5.0, and 0.1-3.0 mg g-1, respectively. The local variation was very large close to the coast. The relation to distance from the sea was improved by using distance from the nearest fjord rather than from the outer coastline. Other elements were less variable and not related to distance from the sea, or to sea salt concentrations. Only 1-10% of the needles sea salt content could be removed by 2 minutes washing in distilled water, and still much less of other elements. The amount of sea salt removed by washing was less related to distance from the sea than was the total content. Visible damage to the foliage occurred at chloride concentrations above 1 mg g-1 in the needles. Our conclusions are that analysis of the needles chloride or sodium content is a robust method for confirming damage to tree foliage by sea salt aerosols. Fjords as well as the ocean are significant sources of sea salt aerosols. Large local variation in salt deposition and damage will occur at a rugged coast. Nutrients and other elements are not significantly affected by the sea salt deposition. The use of chloride or sodium as a tracer for dry deposition should take into account not only the enrichment of these elements in canopy throughfall, but also the accumulation in the needles.

Abstract

Aluminium (Al) is a key element in critical load calculations for forest. Here, we argue for re-evaluating the importance of Al. Effects of two levels of enhanced Al concentrations and lowered Ca:Al ratios in the soil solution in a field manipulation experiment in a mature spruce stand (1996-1999) on tree vitality parameters were tested. In addition, Al solubility controls were tested. Various loads of Al were added to forest plots by means of an irrigation system. Potentially toxic Al concentrations and critical ratios of Ca to inorganic Al were established.The ratio of Ca to total Al was not a suitable indicator for unfavourable conditions for plant growth. No significant effects on crown condition, tree growth and fine root production were observed after three years of treatment. In 1999, foliar Mg content in the highest Al addition treatment had declined significantly. This agreed with the known response to Al stress of seedlings in nutrient solution experiments. No support was found for using the chemical criterion Ca:Al ratio in soil solution, foliar and root tissue as an indicator for forest damage due to acidification. Al solubility was considerably lower than implied by the assumption of equilibrium with gibbsite, particularly in the root zone.The gibbsite equilibrium is commonly used in critical load models. Substitution of the gibbsite equilibrium with an Al-organic matter complexation model to describe Al solubility in soil water may have large consequences for calculation of critical loads. The results indicate that critical load maps for forests should be reconsidered.

Abstract

Air pollution induced changes in pine needle chemistry were observed at sample sites in the surroundings of the Pechenganikel smelter. Close to the smelter, elevated concentrations of Ni, Cu and S were found (Ni: 0.7-1 mmol/kg, CU: 0.4-0.5, and S 40-60 mmol/kg) Close to the pollution source needles were enriched in Ni and Cu by needle age. Correlation and principal component analyses show that changes in the element composition of pine needles depended on air pollution and on natural factors as well. The contribution from air pollution increased with needle age. Besides direct input of pollutants from atmosphere, soil contamination and nutritional disturbance contributed significantly to the observed changes.

Abstract

Epiphytic lichen vegetation on birch stems was studied in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The area is heavily influenced by sulphur dioxide pollution emitted from Russian nickel smelters.Hypogymnia physodes and Melanelia olivacea were the two most abundant lichen species on birch stems in the investigated area. However, the coverage of H. physodes and M. olivacea was clearly reduced in parts of the investigated area. The lichen vegetation increased with increasing distance from the pollution source, i.e. from a lichen desert to normal background levels. A different pattern of occurrence of the two lichen species was observed.

Abstract

Concentrations of 34 elements determined by ICP mass spectrometry were studied in surface soil and vegetation along a north - south gradient through the Pechenganickel smelter complex in Kola peninsula, northern Russia.Strong influence from the smelter was evident for Co, Ni, and Cu, mainly associated with dry deposition of large particles. Also for As, Se, Mo, Sb, Te, Bi, and Pb the smelter or associated sources provided a very distinct contamination, presumably mainly with smaller particles.Significant but less distinct effects leading to enhanced concentration levels were observed for P, S, V, Cr, Fe, Zn, and Tl. In the case of Mn, Rb, Sr, Cs, and Ba the concentrations in vegetation were generally lower near the source, which may be due to cation exchange with protons or heavy metal cations in the soil and subsequent leaching from the root zone. For Li, Be, B, Na, Mg, Al, Ca, Y, Cd, La, Th, and U no particular influence from the smelter complex was observed.Some characteristic differences observed in element concentrations in different plant species and between different years of Pinus silvestris needles are discussed. The high concentrations observed for many trace elements in the humus horizon indicates that it acts as an active biogeochemical barrier against downward transport of these elements.

Abstract

Measurement data on air, precipitation and canopy throughfall chemistry from a network of sites have been combined to study scavenging and deposition processes, with particular emphasis on the oxidised nitrogen species.High deposition rates of oxidised nitrogen occur in coastal areas of SW Norway. These are partly caused by high precipitation rates, partly also because a large fraction of the oxidised nitrogen is present as nitrate in large particles, which are rapidly removed by both wet and dry deposition processes.High wind speeds near the coast result in high concentrations of sea-salt particles in the air and high deposition rates of both nitrate and sea-salt particles, particularly in coniferous forest stands. HNO3 contributes on average only about 10-20% to the sum of aerosol nitrate and HNO3 (sNO(3)). Still, the combined dry deposition velocity of sNO(3) to these forest stands may be between 4 and 6 cm s(-1) on average.

Abstract

Aluminium (Al) has been considered to be a central element for risk evaluation of forest damage due to acidification. It has been hypothesised that Al reduces root growth, nutrient uptake and forest vitality. However, forest monitoring studies fail to show correlations between soil acidification and forest health. In general, no direct relation between Al concentration and forest health has been established. Here, Al concentrations in soil solution were manipulated by weekly additions of dilute AlCl3 to levels that are believed to be unfavorable for plant growth. Four treatments (in triplicate) including a reference and three Al addition levels were established. Effects of enhanced Al concentrations on fine root growth, nutrient uptake and crown condition in a mature Norway spruce forest in Norway were tested (1996-1999). After three years of manipulation, crown condition, tree growth and fine root growth were not affected by potentially toxic Al concentrations. However, the Mg content in current year\"s needles decreased at the highest Al addition treatment. The Mg/Al ratio of fine roots of the same treatment had declined too, which suggests that Al blocked Mg uptake at the root surface. The manipulation will be continued for two more years.

Abstract

Six sites for forest ecosystem monitoring were established to perform a long-term study of effects of air pollution on pine forest ecosystems along a pollution gradient in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The main pollution source is a nickel smelter.Several methods and analyses were used to investigate different compartments of this northern boreal forest ecosystem. The differences in ecological condition and diversity observed among the research sites are probably due to the air pollution load in the area. The elevated concentrations of Ni and Cu detected in plant tissues, the reduced lichen vegetation on stems and on the forest floor, and the reduced or absent moss vegetation are the most obvious impacts in the investigated area.

Abstract

Potential response of forest soils to sulphur deposition in the Norwegian-Russian border area in the surroundings of the Pechenganikel smelters, the major sulphur emitters in the northern Europe, has been assessed with the PROFILE model. The release rate of base cations due to weathering range from 0.05 to 0.28 kmol(c)/ha/yr in the 0 - 50 cm soil layer, thus demonstrating the high sensitivity of the coarse and thin podzols studied. Calculated steady-state BC/Al values are significantly lower than the presumed critical value of 1, which indicate possible negative effect on vegetation through soil acidification. According to the model calculations future sulphur deposition have to be very low in order to stop the ongoing acidification and prevent vegetation damage. However, model assumptions, uncertainty in input data and critical chemical values applied implies that modelling results must be interpreted carefully

Abstract

Contamination of atmosphere and soils was found to be accompanied by the active participation of S, Ni, Cu and Fe in the biological cycle in the area adjacent to \"Petchenganickel\" group of smelting works. The content of Ni, Cu and S in pine needles near the works is as high as 0,7-1; 0,4-0,5 and 40-60 mmol/kg respectively, these values for metals being by an order of magnitude higher than those in unpolluted areas. With increase in the age of trees the content of N, P, K, Mg and S in pine needles decreases and the content of Ca, Al, Fe and Mn increases; accumulation of Ni and Cu in pine needles is usually observed near the smelting works.

Abstract

The objective structure of parameters of soil acidity and cation exchange properties of podzols affected by the emission of the Pechenganikel factory (the Kola Peninsula) is revealed. The multiparametric analysis of soil properties and the traditional correlation analysis complement one another. They point to the complex character of interrelations between soil properties in conditions of progressing human-induced acisification.

Abstract

Studies were undertaken in forest ecosystems of the northwestern Kola Peninsula, Russia and South-Varanger, Norway in the zone affected by the Pechenganikel smelter. The soils consist mainly of shallow sandy iron-humus-illuvial and iron-illuvial podzols on highly bouldery unsorted morainic deposits of course texture, fluvioglacial sands and bedrocks.Plant specimens were collected from 16 plots located at different distances from the source of emissions: Pinus sylvestris needles, bark and wood, dwarf shrub (Empetrum hermaphroditum, Vaccinium myrtillus and Vaccinium vitis-idaea ) leaves, wavy-hair grass (Deschampsia flexuosa), green mosses (Hylocomium splendens and Pleurozium schreberi) and lichens (Cladina rangifirina [Cladonia rangiferina], and Cladina stellaris [Physcia stellaris]) were collected at the end of the growing season.Results showed that the elemental composition of the dominants of the tree, grass-shrub, and moss layers was affected by the sulfur and heavy metals from the source of pollution. The content of nickel and copper in pine needles near the smelter exceeded control levels by an order of magnitude and the content of sulfur exceeded it twofold, reaching toxic levels.In addition to the direct input of pollutants from the atmosphere, soil contamination by nickel and copper within a 30 km radius of the smelter will have adverse effects on mineral nutrition of plants.It is concluded that the disturbance of biological cycles because of the active involvement of pollutants and the decreased availability of nutrients results in retardation of plant growth, a reduction in forest biomass and alterations in plant succession and species composition that leads to simplification and death of forest ecosystems.

Abstract

The complex character of variations in acidity and cation exchange properties of forest podzols under the impact of atmospheric emissions from Pechenganikel plant in the Kola Peninsula was revealed using correlation and regression analyses. The high level of acidity and the depletion of upper horizons in exchangeable bases attest for the anthropogenic acidification of podzols in the affected zone of the plant.

Abstract

The area along the Norwegian-Russian border is threatened by air pollution from emission sources on the Kola Peninsula. A permanent network of 78 systematically chosen monitoring sites has been established in eastern Finnmark, Norway. Species abundance data from the ground vegetation have been recorded from 1320 systematically chosen permanent plots inside 66 of these sites, using frequency in subplots and visual estimates of percentage cover. Environmental variables were obtained for the whole site. Multivariate data analysis has been used to describe the variation in the species composition and to study its relation to environmental variables and pollution impact. The analyses show that much of the variation in the species composition, based on average species abundance at the sites, is well explained by different soil and climatic conditions. However, estimated SO2 deposition, Ni, and Cu in the soil, and Ni in Cladina tissue have also been found to be statistically significantly correlated with the variation in the species data, but they explain only a minor part of the variation. The pollution impact over several years may have lead to a reduced lichen cover in the bottom-layer vegetation. Further development in an either negative or positive direction can be detected by re-investigations of the monitoring sites.