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OPAL Water Centre Monitoring Report 2008-2012

Turner, S; Rose, N; Goldsmith, B; Harrad, S; DAVIDSON, T; (2013) OPAL Water Centre Monitoring Report 2008-2012. (OPAL: Water Survey ). OPAL: Citizen science for everyone: OPAL WATER CENTRE, UCL, London. Green open access

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Abstract

One of the main aims of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project was to promote a greater understanding of the state of the natural environment throughout England, but especially with people who, previously, may not have had the opportunity to become involved. As part of this objective, the OPAL Water Centre developed the OPAL Water Survey which aimed to encourage people to explore the ponds and lakes in their neighbourhoods and discover the animals and plants that live in and around them. However, we felt it was important to demonstrate that lakes and ponds are more than just charismatic beasts such as dragonfly larvae and diving beetles and that these animals exist within a fascinating interaction of aquatic chemistry, physics and biology. Furthermore, it is also important to show that lakes do not exist in isolation but are dependent on what happens around them in their catchments, what is deposited onto their surfaces from the atmosphere, and also how over-arching factors like seasonal changes and climate play important roles. To this end, the OPAL Water Centre set up a monitoring programme at a lake in each of the nine designated regions of England. This monitoring programme involved quarterly measurements over four years (April 2008 – April 2012) supplemented by other less frequent activities. This provided new data on a range of sites across the country; provided more information on some urban and disturbed environments and raised awareness of ecosystem health and how individual actions may affect lakes and ponds. Our monitoring programme included physical measurements such as water temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH and light, chemicals such as nutrients as well as potentially toxic trace metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and biological monitoring of zooplankton, phytoplankton and diatoms. These data allow us to see how lakes change over the seasons and inter-annually as well as the extent of any local impacts. We were very pleased that many of these lakes have local interest groups who have used these data in management plans and as a basis for other studies (e.g. Fleet Pond Society in Hampshire; Friends of Chapman’s Pond in York; field centres at Slapton Ley in Devon and Holt Hall in Norfolk) and as a way to get young people interested in their local environment (e.g. Junior Rangers at Marton Mere in Blackpool). Although monitoring can tell us a great deal about short-term changes, it takes a long time to see whether things are improving or getting worse. Lake sediment cores allow us to put seasonal monitoring into an historical context so we can observe changes over decadal and even centennial time-scales. We therefore also analysed sediment cores from each lake for chemical and biological parameters at each of our monitoring lakes to see these long-term changes. Each core was dated using radio-isotopes (210Pb; 137Cs) allowing us to see not only the direction of change (whether contamination or water quality is improving or deteriorating) but importantly the rate at which any change is occurring. This report describes the main results of all these monitoring activities and a brief interpretation of them on a site-by-site basis. Inevitably, given the large amount of data generated over the four years, this report is only a summary.

Type: Report
Title: OPAL Water Centre Monitoring Report 2008-2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-904813-12-8
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: citizen science, lakes, ponds, water quality, contaminants, trace metals, persistent organic pollutants, paleolimnology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103982
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