1067-4136/01/3202- $25.00 © 2001
Russian Journal of Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2001, pp. 138–141. Translated from Ekologiya, No. 2, 2001, pp. 155–158.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2001 by Kharin, Fedorets, Shil’tsova, D’yakonov, Spektor.
Heavy metals (HMs) are considered to be among
priority technogenic pollutants. To solve ecological
problems related to the environmental effects of HMs
in the Russian North, it is necessary to make a detailed
inventory of their contents in natural objects in different
areas with regard to the diversity of climatic and soil-
geochemical conditions and the degree of industrial
development in these areas. It is known that mosses are
informative indicators of aerotechnogenic environmen-
tal pollution. Forest litters are important as the struc-
tures retaining and accumulating various pollutants.
The contents of HMs in the soil depends on the distance
from local pollution sources and, to a large extent, on
the pattern of pollutant transfer in the upper layers of
the atmosphere. An important role belongs to region-
speciﬁc natural factors, i.e., local climate, relief, vege-
tation, and soils.
The Republic of Karelia is located on the Baltic
shield, which forms the northwestern part of the Russian
platform. The vast area of the republic (117300 km
extends from the north to the south for 672 km; hence,
the climate, geological structure, hydrographic net-
work, soils, and vegetation in different parts of the
republic are heterogeneous.
The climate in Karelia is relatively mild, with a long
mild winter and a short cool summer; considerable
cloudiness, high humidity, and changeable weather are
characteristic of all seasons. The prevailing form of
atmospheric circulation over the territory of Karelia is
the western transfer of air masses. The formation of
precipitation is also accounted for by moisture evapo-
rated from the White Sea and numerous lakes and bogs,
which cover one-third of the Karelian territory. Vegeta-
tion has a considerable effect on the migration of sub-
stances. In Karelia, coniferous forests are the dominant
type of vegetation.
The spectrum of possible sources of technogenic
HM pollution in Karelia is wide. There are 10284
sources of industrial emissions into the atmosphere,
and most of them are concentrated in the cities of
Petrozavodsk, Segezha, Kostomuksha, and Kondo-
poga. The total amount of emissions from large indus-
trial enterprises of these cities reaches 128600 tons per
year. A complex combination of technogenic factors
and natural geochemical conditions in Karelia deter-
mines the pattern of HM distribution over its territory.
In this work, we studied green mosses (
) and forest litters.
The former indicate the state of the atmosphere over a
relatively short period of time (approximately three
years), and the chemical composition of the latter
reﬂects the impact of long-term industrial pollution
(over more than ten years). The chemical analysis of
mosses and litters can provide information about the
sources, ranges, and extents of environmental pollu-
tion, as well as reveal major pollutants. Our studies
were performed by internationally accepted methods
Atmospheric Heavy Metal…
Samples of green mosses and forest litters were
taken from test plots of the bioindication network cov-
ering the entire Karelian territory. The contents of iron,
manganese, chromium, copper, nickel, zinc, cobalt,
lead, and cadmium in the samples were determined by
atomic absorption spectrometry.
We also estimated the effects of climatic parameters
(wind rose, precipitation rate) on the distribution of
aerotechnogenic pollutants containing HMs over the
territory of the republic. The data on each of eight wind
directions recorded by the Karelian hydrometeorologi-
cal observatory (N, S, W, E, NE, NW, SE, SW) was
assessed quantitatively with respect to wind stability,
i.e., the frequency of its occurrence as a percentage of
the total number of observations (without calm winds).
Taking into account wind directions in winter and sum-
mer and different weather patterns in the cold or warm
periods of the year, the parameters of stability were
averaged. Thus, we distinguished cold winters with lit-
tle snow from warm, snowy winters and cold, rainy
summers from warm, dry summers.
We developed an original approach to the analysis of
HM distribution over the Karelian territory with respect
to each individual element and their combinations,
Geographic Trends in the Accumulation of Heavy Metals in
Mosses and Forest Litters in Karelia
V. N. Kharin
, N. G. Fedorets
, G. V. Shil’tsova
, V. V. D’yakonov
, and E. N. Spektor
Institute of Applied Mathematical Research, Russia
Institute of Forests, Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushkinskaya ul. 11,
Petrozavodsk, 185610 Russia
Received: February 29, 2000
: heavy metals, accumulation, mosses, litters, Karelia, multivariate statistical analysis.