Aquatic Sciences

, 81:54 | Cite as

Multi-year trends and determinants of the hydrochemistry of high mountain lakes in the Western Italian Alps

  • Rocco TibertiEmail author
  • Luca Nelli
  • Aldo Marchetto
  • Gabriele Tartari
  • Eric Wienckowski
  • Michela Rogora
Research Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Understanding mountain lakes in a changing world


High mountain lakes (HML) provide essential ecosystem services, have tremendous conservation and aesthetic value, and are good model ecosystems to study the ecological consequences of global change. Multi-year (2008–2017) chemical data from 25 HML from the Gran Paradiso National Park (Western Italian Alps) were used to address two specific objectives: (1) assess the major determinants of HML hydrochemistry; (2) identify any multi-years trend attributable to global change. Local trends in climatic variables and NO3, NH4+, and SO42− deposition were evaluated over the same period as possible drivers of lake chemistry. We were able to explain most of the variance associated to the major ion concentration, but much less of that associated with nutrient content and with variables related to atmospheric deposition (e.g. Cl, Na+, inorganic N). The explanation of which probably requires studies at a regional scale. As a whole, lake chemistry depends on the interplay of several environmental variables, including the impact of human activities (i.e. point source of organic pollutants). Catchment geology and vegetation cover influence several variables related to weathering processes, which show a general increase over the last 10 years. This general trend can be attributable to climatic variability enhancing weathering processes in lake catchments. However, a concomitant decrease of precipitation amount and the deposition of acidifying compounds may have contributed to the observed trends. Meteorological data were almost unrelated to HML hydrochemistry, suggesting that lake chemical composition would depend more strongly on long-term climatic variations rather than on short-term meteorological events.


Local impacts Global change Atmospheric deposition Long-term monitoring Gran Paradiso National Park 



We would like to thank the GPNP authorities and in particular the personnel of the Research and Biodiversity Service and the GPNP wardens for their commitment to research. We thank Prof. Giuseppe Bogliani (University of Pavia) and many students and field assistants. We thank Teteh Champion for English proofreading and editing suggestions. Funding and logistic support for this research was provided by the Gran Paradiso National Park within the framework of the EU FP7 ACQWA Project (Assessment of Climatic change and impacts on the Quantity and quality of Water; Grant Agreement no. 212250) and the LIFE + BIOAQUAE Project (Biodiversity Improvement of Aquatic Alpine Ecosystems; LIFE11 BIO/IT/000020). Supplemental funding for the chemical analyses and dashboard work was kindly provided by CNR IRSA and the University of Pavia (Grant Number 105355 issued to Rocco Tiberti). Monitoring of atmospheric deposition at the ICP FOREST site PIE1—Val Sessera has been partially funded by the Italian Forestry Service (Corpo Forestale dello Stato, Servizio CONECOFOR) and by the European Union under the Regulation (EC) no 2152/2003 concerning monitoring of forests and environmental interactions in the community (Forest Focus) and the project LIFE 07 ENV/D/000218 “Further Development and Implementation of an EU-level Forest Monitoring System (FutMon)”.

Supplementary material

27_2019_650_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2646 kb)
27_2019_650_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (334 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 333 kb)
27_2019_650_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (50 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 49 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DSTA, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’AmbienteUniversità di PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Alpine Wildlife Research CentreParco Nazionale Gran ParadisoAostaItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative MedicineUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  4. 4.CNR Water Research Institute (IRSA)VerbaniaItaly
  5. 5.New York State Task Force on Demographic and Geographic ResearchNew YorkUSA

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