Changes in the atmospheric deposition of minor and rare elements between 1975 and 2000 in south Sweden, as measured by moss analysis
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Elements emitted to the atmosphere are partly exported to more remote areas and contribute to the regional and territorial deposition rates. This study is based on the principle that carpet-forming bryophytes (pleurocarpic mosses) absorb elements and particles from rain, melting snow and dry deposition. We compare the concentrations of 60 elements in carpets of the forest moss Pleurozium schreberi sampled in 1975 and 2000 within a sparsely inhabited area dominated by forest and bogland in south Sweden. As an average for all the 60 elements, the median concentration was 2.7 times higher in 1975 than in 2000. The greatest difference was measured for Pb, although In, Bi, Ge, V, Sri, As and Ag had more than 5 times higher concentrations in 1975 than in 2000. Somewhat lower 1975/2000 concentration ratios (3.0-3.8) were measured for U, Sb, Cd, W, Ga, Fe, Li, and Be. The rare-earth elements (Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, and Lu), except Eu as well as Th, Ni, Al, Ti, Hf, Nb, and Zr, had concentration ratios around the average (2.5-2.8). Possible causes of these changes are discussed. We conclude that reductions in anthropogenic dust emissions during recent decades have decreased the atmospheric deposition over northern Europe of most elements in the periodical system, as previously reported for a limited number of transition and heavy metals. Changes in the deposition of soil dust would be of minor importance to the decreased deposition rates.