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  • 1.
    Bindler, Richard
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Myrstener, Erik
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Liu, Enfeng
    Bigler, Christian
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Hansson, Sophia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Meyer-Jacob, Carsten
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Mighall, Tim
    Ninnes, Sofia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Rydberg, Johan
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Reshaping the landscape: mining, metallurgy and a millennium of environmental changes in south-central SwedenManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Before the recognition of emerging environmental issues during the 20th century such as acid rain, mercury pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, human activities had already significantly altered landscapes around the globe. As elsewhere in Europe, the introduction of agriculture into Sweden during the Bronze and Iron Ages led to changes in forest cover, especially in southern areas, but also more limited impacts in central and northern Sweden along river valleys and coastal areas. In central Sweden the rise and rapid spread of ore mining and metallurgy from the 12th and especially 13th century initiated a widespread reshaping of the landscape named after its mining heritage –Bergslagen (mining laws). This mineral rich 89,000 km2 region encompasses ~5000 metallurgical sites (furnaces, smelters, foundries, forges) and ~10000 mines registered in the Swedish National Antiquities Board’s database.

    Analyses of >30 lake-sediment records using a combination of geochemical, diatom and pollen analyses, in combination with archaeological and historical records and toponyms, add important details to the early, poorly documented history of mining/metallurgy as well as provide insights into some of the environmental impacts across this large landscape. These impacts included damming of lakes and regulation of watercourses for waterpower, increase in erosion, emission of metals to surface waters and the atmosphere (and leaching from slag piles), decrease in forest cover and changes in water quality. The discontinuous appearance of pollen from cultivated plants (cereals) indicates some limited settlement before the 12th century, but the regular occurrence thereafter of cereal pollen together with a sharp increase in charcoal particles and geochemical evidence of mining/metallurgical activities, indicates mining/metallurgy was a driving force for settlement. Decline in forest cover was gradual from the 13th century, but was more significant from the late 16th century when iron and copper production increased exponentially. The increased demand for charcoal and increased agriculture, including an expansion of summer forest farms, contributed to a reduction in inferred forest cover to 40–80% – as compared to pre-anthropogenic (≤2000 BP) values of 84–95%. From the 16th century charcoal became the limiting resource within Bergslagen and metallurgy expanded to regions adjoining Bergslagen, contributing to a more widespread decline in forest cover also beyond the Bergslagen landscape.

    In association with the increase in land-use activities and resulting changes in vegetation cover, there was a decline (20–50%) in spectrally inferred lake-water total organic carbon, which we hypothesize resulted from a decreased pool of labile soil carbon. In some lakes closely connected with blast furnaces, where the peasant-miners also lived and farmed, there was an increase in diatom-inferred lake-water pH – as observed previously in SW Sweden in association with Iron Age land use. Only in a suite of lakes in close proximity to the smelting of copper sulfide ores in the surroundings of Falun was there evidence for pre-20th century acidification.

    While current rates of environmental change may be unprecedented, they build on an already modified landscape. Because pre-industrial conditions, i.e., pre-19th century, are often used as a reference level the scale of current changes may underestimate the full extent of ecosystem and environmental impacts.

  • 2.
    Myrstener, Erik
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Ninnes, Sofia
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Meyer-Jacob, Carsten
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Mighall, Tim
    Bindler, Richard
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Long-term development of clear- and brown-water acidic lakes in the Swedish boreal landscape: implications for contemporary lake-water qualityManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The recent browning of surface waters and its effects on water quality across northern latitudes continue to raise questions about the driving mechanisms and future trajectories. However, even when based on multi-decadal environmental monitoring data, assessments of contemporary trends and drivers often overlook potential underlying long-term changes in lake-water quality. Here we synthesize data from seven clear- and brown-water acidic lakes in the Swedish boreal landscape to conceptualize how natural and human-driven processes have regulated lake-water quality, measured as spectrally inferred lake-water total organic carbon (TOC) and diatom-inferred pH. From 10,000 BCE to ~500 CE, all studied lakes were browner (lake-water TOC 10–24 mg L-1) and underwent natural acidification, decreasing from pH ~7 to 4.7–5.4. From ~500 to 1850 CE, historical human land use caused lake-water TOC to decline by ~50% in all lakes and in the poorly buffered, clear-water lakes, pH to increase by >1 unit. During the 20th century, the interaction between centuries of land use and more recent industrial acid deposition resulted in unprecedentedly low lake-water TOC (3–8 mg L-1) in all lakes and severely re-duced pH in the poorly buffered lakes, whereas those surrounded by peatlands resisted these pH changes. These extreme values coincided with the onset of environmental monitoring, meaning that contempo-rary increases in lake-water TOC and pH occur within the context of past, long-term disturbances, which are therefore crucial to consider for the purposes of lake management and prediction of lake responses to future environmental disturbances, especially climate change.

  • 3.
    Ninnes, Sofia
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Tolu, Julie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Meyer-Jacob, Carsten
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Mighall, Tim M.
    Bindler, Richard
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
    Investigating molecular changes in organic matter composition in two Holocene lake-sediment records from central Sweden using pyrolysis-GC/MS2017In: Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences, ISSN 2169-8953, E-ISSN 2169-8961, Vol. 122, no 6, p. 1423-1438Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Organic matter (OM) is a key component of lake sediments, affecting carbon, nutrient, and trace metal cycling at local and global scales. Yet little is known about long-term (millennial) changes in OM composition due to the inherent chemical complexity arising from multiple OM sources and from secondary transformations. In this study we explore how the molecular composition of OM changes throughout the Holocene in two adjacent boreal lakes in central Sweden and compare molecular-level information with conventional OM variables, including total carbon, total nitrogen, C:N ratios, delta C-13, and delta N-15. To characterize the molecular OM composition, we employed a new method based on pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS), which yields semiquantitative data on > 100 organic compounds of different origin and degradation status. We identify large changes in OM composition after deglaciation (circa 8500 +/- 500 B.C.), associated with early landscape development, and during the most recent 4050 years, driven by degradation processes. With molecular(-)level information we can also distinguish between natural landscape development and human catchment disturbance during the last 1700 years. Our study demonstrates that characterization of the molecular OM composition by the high-throughput PyGC/MS method is an efficient complement to conventional OM variables for identification and understanding of past OM dynamics in lake-sediment records. Holocene changes observed for pyrolytic compounds and compound classes known for having different reactivity indicate the need for further paleo-reconstruction of the molecular OM composition to better understand both past and future OM dynamics and associated environmental changes.

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