The impact of industrial SO2 pollution on North Bohemia conifers

M. Rydval, R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Conifer forests in the Jizerské Mountains, Czech Republic have experienced widespread and long-lasting effects related to industrial SO pollution. To explore the spatial and temporal impact of this phenomenon on Norway spruce stands, a transect of sites was sampled to the southeast of the Polish coalfired power station Turów. Tree growth at all sites displayed a significant reduction around 1980, which could not be explained by climate alone. However, by incorporating both climate and SO variables in multiple regression models, the chronology trends could be explained well. The lowest growth rates were found to coincide with the period of greatest atmospheric SO concentrations and the degree of suppression decreased with increasing distance from the power station. The period of growth suppression in a Silver fir site appeared to be more severe and longer in duration than for the spruce, although differing site conditions prevented a direct comparison. Fir trees also appeared to be affected by SO pollution earlier in the twentieth century compared to spruce. Growth of both species, however, did not return to predicted levels following the reduction of pollution levels in the 1990s. A comparison with spruce and fir data from the Bavarian Forest, a region also affected by pollution in the past, revealed a temporal difference in growth suppression, likely related to different timings and loadings of SO emissions between both regions. This study highlights pollution as another potential causal factor for the 'divergence problem' and dendroclimatic reconstructions in polluted regions should be developed with caution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5727-5744
Number of pages18
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


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