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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Long-Term Nitrogen and Phosphorus Dynamics in Waters Discharging from Forestry-Drained and Undrained Boreal Peatlands

Nieminen, Mika; Sarkkola, Sakari; Hasselquist, Eliza Maher; Sallantaus, Tapani


Contradictory results for the long-term evolution of nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in waters discharging from drained peatland forests need reconciliation. We gathered long-term (10-29 years) water quality data from 29 forested catchments, 18 forestry-drained and 11 undrained peatlands. Trend analysis of the nitrogen and phosphorus concentration data indicated variable trends from clearly decreasing to considerably increasing temporal trends. While the variations in phosphorus concentration trends over time did not correlate with any of our explanatory factors, trends in nitrogen concentrations correlated positively with tree stand volume in the catchments and temperature sum. A positive correlation of increasing nitrogen concentrations with temperature sum raises concerns of the future evolution of nitrogen dynamics under a warming climate. Furthermore, the correlation with tree stand volume is troublesome due to the generally accepted policy to tackle the climate crisis by enhancing tree growth. However, future research is still needed to assess which are the actual processes related to stand volume and temperature sum that contribute to increasing TN concentrations.


Drainage; Forestry; Peatlands; Temporal trends; Water quality

Published in

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
2021, volume: 232, number: 9, article number: 371

Authors' information

Nieminen, Mika
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)
Sarkkola, Sakari
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Sallantaus, Tapani
Finnish Environment Institute

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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