Input of neutral salt, primarily NaCl, from sea spray is an important factor for short-term acidification of surface water, primarily in already acidified areas, because Na may substitute for H+ and cationic aluminium by cation-exchange reactions in the soil. By evaluating the variation of non-marine sodium (Na*) separately it is possible to estimate the major effect of seasalt episodes on the neutralizing capacity (ANC) of stream water. At four long-term monitored Norwegian catchments, the Na* in stream water on average explained 28 ± 4% of the monthly variations of ANC in stream water at Birkenes, and 27 ± 3%, 20 ± 2% and 56 ± 5% of the correspondent variations at Storgama, Langtjern and Kaarvatn, during the respective monitoring periods. The remaining variations in acid neutralizing capacity are explained by the difference between non-marine base cations (ΣCa*,Mg*,K*) and non-marine sulphate (SO4*) and NO3. This paper also indicates that seasalt episodes are probably of greater importance for the periodic variations in ANC of stream water than commonly recognized. During the last years, extreme seasalt episodes have occurred in southern Norway, and more frequently at winter-time, which means that seasalt inputs have played a more important role for the short-term variations of ANC in stream water the last years. This tendency is also strengthened by the fact that there has been a significant decline in the input of acidic sulphur compounds and non-marine base cations in stream water during the last 10-15 years. Because the decline in soil-derived base cations in stream water is somewhat lower than the correspondent decline of sulphate, a slowly improving ANC of stream water should be expected on long-term basis. Seasalt episodes of the same magnitude as those present during the last years, will therefore most likely cause less extreme water-chemical conditions in the years to come. Because the seasalt effect seems to be a short-term effect, there is no reason to claim that these effects may cause long-term acidification, a conclusion earlier drawn from several correspondent studies.
- Received August 10, 1994.
- Revision received February 22, 1995.
- Accepted March 21, 1995.
- © IWA Publishing 1995