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Pollution of Lakes and Rivers

396 pages
Now in its second edition, Pollution of Lakes and Rivers provides essential insights into present-day water quality problems from an international perspective.
  • Explains simply and effectively how lake sediments can be used to reconstruct pollution history
  • Includes over 200 additional references and a new chapter on recent climatic change and its effects on water quality and quantity
  • Tackles present-day water quality problems from an international perspective
  • Previously published by Hodder Arnold

PowerPoint slides of the artwork from the book are available from:



"This is a very well-written and wide-ranging volume that is both instructive and topical. It is likely to prove useful as an introduction to the general area, a reference source and for teaching purposes." (The Holocene, November 2008)

"If you thought that paleolimnology was just mud, pollen, and diatoms then you will likely be both struck by the complexity of this field of research and grateful that John Smol, FRSC, has described it so clearly and broadly. Simply put, the second edition is an excellent book." ( Journal of Phycology, 2008)

“This is a useful text. It provides a good level of detail so that the beginner in this area can appreciate what palaeolimnology can (and cannot) achieve. It goes beyond the simple introduction to provide a detailed understanding of how techniques can be applied ... This is a different take on the usual pollution text and would be of great use to those wishing to understand more from sedimentary records.” Taken from the British Ecological Society’s Teaching Ecology website 

"John Smol has extensive experience in this field of paleoenvironmental research which he combines well with his excellent written communication skills to produce a text that is easy to read but also thought provoking."  (Quaternary Science Reviews, 2009)

“The breadth of coverage in this text is impressive.” (Lake and Reservoir Management, 2009)

“If I could speak with fluidity and clarity in my lectures as consistently as John Smol writes my students would be very grateful.” (Journal of Paleolimnology, 2009)

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Preface to the second edition About the author
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
There is no substitute for water How long is long? Sediments: an ecosystem’s memory Retrieving the sedimentary archive and establishing the geochronological clock: collecting and dating sediment cores Reading the records stored in sediments: the present is a key to the past The paleolimnologist’s Rosetta Stone: calibrating indicators to environmental variables using surface-sediment training sets Acidification: finding the “smoking gun” Metals, technological development, and the environment Persistent organic pollutants: industrially synthesized chemicals “hopping” across the planet
vi ix
1 12 22
10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17
Mercury – “the metal that slipped away” Eutrophication: the environmental consequences of over-fertilization Erosion: tracking the accelerated movement of material from land to water Species invasions, biomanipulations, and extirpations Greenhouse gas emissions and a changing atmosphere: tracking the effects of climatic change on water resources Ozone depletion, acid rain, and climatic warming: the problems of multiple stressors
New problems, new challenges
Paleolimnology: a window on the past, a key to our future
Glossary References Index
275 286
314 324 362
Preface to the second edition
Look abroad through natures range, Natures mighty law is change. Robert Burns (1759–96)
We live in a constantly changing environment. Some changes are due to natural processes, but we now know that anthropogenic activities are responsible for many of the environmental prob-lems we are currently facing. Humans have un-intentionally initiated large, global “experiments,” with processes such as titrating our lakes with acids from industrial emissions, to over-fertilizing our surface waters with sewage and agricultural runoff, to changing the physical and chemical properties of our atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions, to synthesizing and releasing thousands of compounds into our biosphere. In most cases, we have little or no idea of the environmental repercussions of these actions until it is too late and the damage has been done. In almost all cases, we only start monitoring ecosystemsaftera prob-lem is recognized. We do not have a crystal ball to see where these environmental changes will take us, but we can learn many lessons from the past. Historical perspectives allow us to determine what an eco-system was like before it was disturbed (providing realistic targets for mitigation) and to ascertain how the system changed as a result of human activities. Although very little long-term and pre-impact monitoring data are typically available for most ecosystems, much of this information is archived as proxy data in sedimentary records that can be interpreted by paleolimnologists in a manner that is useful to other scientists, en-vironmental managers, politicians, and policy
makers, as well as the public at large. As Con-fucius observed over two millennia ago, “Study the past to divine the future.” This book is about using the vast stores of information preserved in lake, river, and reservoir sediments to track past environmental changes. The first edition of this textbook was published in 2002, and I had no plans at that time to do a second edition in such a short time. However, the first edition sold out faster than I had initially anticipated, and the decision was then one of either simply reprinting the first edition or under-taking a revision. I chose the latter. The field of paleolimnology is rapidly evolving and improv-ing, with new applications and approaches being developed at a frenetic pace. It is not possible to cover, even in a general sense, the myriad applica-tions that paleolimnology offers in a book this size. I have therefore focused on problems deal-ing with the major forms of freshwater pollution. However, with the second edition, I have added a new chapter entitled “Greenhouse gas emissions and a changing atmosphere: tracking the effects of climatic change on water resources.” The reasons for this new chapter were two-fold. First, it is clear that climate change is having myriad effects on water quality and other pollution issues, and so a short chapter describing some of the ways that paleolimnologists track past climatic changes appeared to be warranted. The second reason was more practical. Several professors had told me that they liked the first edition
and used it in their upper year courses as a reference or text, but felt that, since paleoclim-ate research was only peripherally mentioned, it was not complete for a typical university course on paleoenvironmental research or global envir-onmental change. I hope that this new chapter will at least partly fill this gap. In addition, a number of new sections and figures are now included throughout the book, as well as updates to many original entries from the first edition. About 250 new references are cited in this edi-tion. Most of my examples continue to be from lakes, as the vast majority of published studies are from these systems. However, most paleolim-nological approaches can also be applied to river and reservoir systems, provided that suitable sedimentary sequences are identified. A frustrating aspect of writing this book was that I had to choose from so many good examples. Due to page limitations, I could only highlight a few studies, with my overall goal of showing a broad spectrum of applications. Almost all of these case studies are from Western Europe and North America, which is a reflection of where most of the applied paleolimnological work has been done to date. This, too, is changing, as scientists and managers become more aware that paleolimnological approaches can offer import-ant and cost-effective answers to many serious water-quality questions, especially in developing countries. In fact, several of the new examples in this second edition are from these regions. I have received excellent advice and assistance from many colleagues regarding the completion of this book. Foremost amongst these have been members of my laboratory, the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, who read and commented on many sections of this book. Brian F. Cumming, William M. Last, and Andrew M. Paterson made especially thoughtful comments on overall structure and content. Many thanks are also due to Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, and espe-cially my publishing editor Dr Ian Francis, for his assistance. Thanks also to my friend and
colleague, Ray Bradley, for his encouragement to undertake this second edition. I also wish to acknowledge the original reviewers for their helpful comments. As always, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to John Glew, who is my right hand (and often left hand as well) in the field and elsewhere, and whose immense artistic talents have enhanced the illustrations in this book. Jon Sweetman and Daniel Selbie were especially helpful in preparing the final photographic plates. I would also like to thank the many journal and book publishers, as well as individual scientists, who granted me permission to reproduce some of their figures. The following individuals made important comments to various sections of the text and/ or otherwise assisted with this volume: D. Antoniades, P. Appleby, J. Baron, R. Battarbee, B. Beierle, L. Benson, H. Birks, J. Birks, J. Blais, W. Blake, Jr, I. Boomer, D. Bos, R. Bradley, M. Brenner, J. Bright, K. Brodersen, R. Brugam, J. Casselman, M. Chaisson, D. Charles, S. Clerk, A. Cohen, S. Cooper, C. Dalton, F. Dapples, J. Dearing, P. DeDeckker, A. Derry, P. Dillon, A. Dixit, S. Dixit, M. Douglas, T. Edwards. A. Ek, S. Eisenreich, B. Finney, E. Fjeld, J. Flenley, R. Flower, R. Forester, F. Forrest, S. Fritz, A. Jeziorski, K. Gajewski, Z. Gan, R. Gilbert, B. Ginn, F. Ginn, J. Glew, I. Gregory-Eaves, C. Grooms, P. Guilizzoni, R. Hall, J. Havelock, M. Hermanson, D. Hodgson, E. Jeppesen, R. Jones, V. Jones, T. Karst, M. Kowalewski, W.C. Kerfoot, G. Kerson, K. Laird, S. Lamontagne, D. Landers, S. Lamoureux, D. Lean, P. Leavitt, M. Leira, L. Lockhart, A. Lotter, G. MacDonald, R. Macdonald, A. Mackay, H. MacIsaac, A. Martinez, M. McGillivray, R. McNeely, P. Meyers, K. Mills, N. Michelutti, B. Miskimmin, J. Morse, D. Muir, K. Neill, C. Nöel, P. O’Sullivan, A. Parker, A. Paterson, D. Pearson, R. Pienitz, M. Pisaric, S. Pla, R. Quinlan, E. Reavie, I. Renberg, S. Rognerud, N. Rose, K. Rühland, O. Sandman, C. Sayer, D. Selbie, C. Schelske, D. Schindler, R. Schmidt, W. Shotyk, F. Siegel, P. Siver, A. Smol, E. Stoermer, J.
Stone, A. Street-Perrott, J. Sweetman, E. Turner, D. Verschuren, W. Vincent, I. Walker, J. Webber, P. Werner, T. Whitmore, A. Wilkinson, A. Wolfe, B. Wolfe, N. Yan, and B. Zeeb. Any errors or omissions are, of course, my responsibility. Funding for my research has come from a vari-ety of sources, but primarily from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. I feel fortunate that I am able to pur-sue my research and teaching in what I believe is a remarkable country, at an excellent and supportive university, where I can participate in such an outstanding and rapidly growing field of science. I would also like to acknowledge the moral support supplied by my mother and my siblings, as well their families. Paleolimnologists often tend to look back-wards, and as I read over the final version of my text, I feel that I should acknowledge what will likely be obvious to any reader of this book – I think paleolimnology is wonderful! As such, I suspect some will find my views embarrassingly enthusiastic and perhaps hopelessly optimistic.
Certainly, as in all other branches of science, not all paleolimnological investigations are successful, nor can many conclusions be stated with sufficient confidence to warrant subsequent interventions and other actions. Nonetheless, I believe that there is now ample evidence that pale-olimnological studies are consistently providing defendable answers to critically important ques-tions. In many cases, due to the lack of monitoring data, proxy data provide theonlyanswers attain-able, and so even a partial answer is better than no answer at all. I am excited and immensely proud of the accomplishments of my colleagues. The science of paleolimnology has moved rapidly and effec-tively to help solve many environmental prob-lems, and has often blended itself seamlessly with many other disciplines. These are exciting times for paleolimnology. I hope this book cap-tures some of this excitement.
John P. Smol