The plant necromass and living ground layer vegetation most clearly indicate Cu and Ni deposition in a subarctic forest

Theme 1. Environmental protection
Session Name 1.10 Biogeochemical cycles in Arctic forests
Datetime Sep 07, 2018 02:37 PM - 02:44 PM (UTC +3)
Location Room 14
Presentation Type Oral
Presenter Päivi Merilä
Author(s) Päivi Merilä (Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Finland), Antti-Jussi Lindroos (Luke, Finland), Tiina M. Nieminen (Luke, Finland), Maija Salemaa (Luke, Finland), Liisa Ukonmaanaho (Luke, Finland)
Abstract text

The mining and metallurgical industry on the Kola Peninsula, Russia is one of the largest sources of heavy metal (HM) emissions in the northern hemisphere. The emission impact area stretches for over 100 km from the smelters in Nikel, extending to Finland and Norway. Here we present detailed results of copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni) concentrations in a Scots pine plot (ICP-Forests Level II) located in Sevettijärvi, northernmost Finland, at a distance of 54 km from Nikel. Our aims were to evaluate the distribution of Cu and Ni pollution in the forest and to identify those ecosystem compartments showing the highest accumulation of HM.


The highest Cu and Ni concentrations were found in plant necromass (non-foliar litterfall, bryophyte and lichen necromass, litter layer) and in the living ground layer bryophytes and lichens. In these compartments the Cu concentrations (14–36 mg/kg) were 5–7 times higher and the Ni concentrations (20–45 mg/kg) were 17–31 times higher than the respective concentrations averaged for three other pine dominated Level II plots located elsewhere in Finland. The upper mineral soil layers showed slightly higher Cu concentrations in Sevettijärvi than on the reference plots, while soil solution and stem wood showed no signs of Cu or Ni pollution.


Our results indicate elevated Cu and Ni concentrations in most forest compartments at Sevettijärvi plot, which is most probably caused by the emissions from mining and metallurgical industry on the Kola Peninsula and do not originate from the geology of the site.

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