OR/14/047 Monitoring networks in England and Wales

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Farr, G, and Hall J. 2014. Atmospheric deposition and groundwater dependent wetlands: implications for effective catchment management and future Water Framework Directive groundwater classification in England and Wales. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/14/047.

There are several monitoring networks established across the UK designed to collect data to understand baseline atmospheric deposition. Only maps for England and Wales are presented as figures however all of the networks within this chapter have sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland. A short description of each network along with a map showing the location of the monitoring points are provided in the following chapter. A large amount of the data from these monitoring networks is available online via the DEFRA website, and for each a web address is supplied. This section will only provide an overview of the national monitoring networks (including the Large Plant Combustion Directive sites) and a list of individual sites is provided in Identification of potential study sites. A spatial GIS search shows that >50% of the atmospheric monitoring sites are within 10 km of a designated GWDTE.

UK Eutrophying and Acidifying Atmospheric Pollutants (UKEAP)[edit]

UKEAP consists of four monitoring networks measuring atmospheric acidifying and eutrophying species in the rural environment, and the operation of the two UK EMEP supersites one in Scotland (Auchencorth Moss) and the other in England (Harwell, Oxfordshire). The network is run jointly by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and AEA Technology and aims to allow:

  • The evaluation of policy measures to reduce concentration and deposition
  • Risks to ecosystems and exceedences of critical loads to be assessed

Annual reports for the network are publically available e.g. Connolly et al. (2011)[1] and a short description of the networks that make up the UKEAP are provided below.

National Ammonia Monitoring Network (NAMN)[edit]

Gaseous ammonia (NH3) has been measured monthly at 85 sites across the UK since 1996 (Figure 5). The monitoring provides a baseline in the reduced nitrogen species (NH3 + NH+), which is necessary for examining responses to changes in the agricultural sector and to verify compliance with targets set by international agreements. Samples are collected using the CEH DELTA (Denuder for long Term Atmospheric sampling) system. The data for each of the monitoring sites is available online at: air.defra.gov.uk/networks/network-info?view=nh3.

Precipitation Network (PRECIPNET)[edit]

Consisting of 38 sites (Figure 6) measurements of Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, PO43-, NH4+, NO3-, SO42-, Cl-

Within precipitation are made on a fortnightly basis, with two sites measured daily. The network sites are located near sensitive ecoystems and allows estimates of wet deposition of sulpher and nitrogen chemicals. The data for each of the monitoring sites is available online at: air.defra.gov.uk/networks/network-info?view=precipnet.

NO2 Diffusion Tube Network (NO2-NET)[edit]

Using 24 sites from PrecipNet (Figure 6) nitrogen dioxide measurements are made using diffusion tubes connected to the rain water collector stands. The diffusion tubes are exposed for 4–5 weeks at a time. The data for each of the monitoring sites is available online at: info?view=no2net

Acid Gas and Aerosol Network (AGANET)[edit]

Using the 30 locations from the National Ammonia Monitoring Network (NAMN) samples are collected monthly for gaseous HNO3, SO2, HCl and particulate NO3, SO4, Cl, Na, Ca, Mg. gaseous SO2 and particulate SO4. Data from the network, operational since 1999, is used to support pollution climate mapping and to calculate regional deposition budgets, especially in upland areas sensitive to acid deposition. The data for each of the monitoring sites is available online at: air.defra.gov.uk/networks/network-info?view=aganet

UK Environmental Change Network (ECN)[edit]

The Environmental Change Network (http://www.ecn.ac.uk/) is a multi-agency program sponsored by a consortium of UK government departments and agencies. Each organization contributes by either funding or carrying out the monitoring, with the data then pooled into the national ECN project. The ECN comprises of 12 terrestrial and 45 freshwater monitoring sites ranging from lowland to upland settings (Figure 8). Terrestrial sites include lowland grassland, agriculture, woodland, forest, upland and mountain monitoring locations and the freshwater sites are dominantly rivers and lakes. Each of the sites is monitored for a range of physical, chemical and biological variables all collected and analyzed in line with a series of national protocol documents (http://www.ecn.ac.uk/measurements).

UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network[edit]

The UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network was originally set up in 1998 under the name of the UK. Acid Waters Monitoring Network (AWMN). The initial aim of the network was to assess chemical and biological changes of acidified lakes and streams to help provide data in response to the new UK emission laws. It has now been running for over 20 years and provides a valuable source of information for understanding current and predicting future trends.

The network consists of 26 sites across the UK, including headwater streams and lakes with monitoring focused at both biological and chemical parameters. Due to the upland focus of the network the majority of sites are located in Scotland (11) followed by England (6), Wales (4) and Northern Ireland (4), their locations are shown in Figure 9. Kernan et al. 2010[2] provide a useful review of the first 20 years of monitoring.

Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCPD)[edit]

Operators of power stations and refineries in England and Wales who have ‘opted in’ to the Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCPD) were required by the Environment Agency to undertake ‘a monitoring program to assess changes in acidification and eutrophication deposition and ecological effects at appropriate Natura 2000 sites’. In total 7 Natura 2000 sites are monitored for the effects of atmospheric deposition (see Table 7). The monitoring, that commenced in 2011 will form part of the operating permit improvement conditions for the plants (Monteith et al. 2012)[3] with measurements including vegetation surveys, soil analysis and wet deposition analysis.

UK Research on the Eutrophication and Acidification of Terrestrial Environments (UKREATE)[edit]

The DEFRA and NERC co-funded UKREATE (UK Research on the Eutrophication and Acidification of Terrestrial Environments) project was used to collate evidence for the effects of nitrogen deposition on terrestrial habitats in the UK. The project is now finished however its output holds information on the field sites used in N deposition studies reported on in RoTAP (2012)[4] and used in the data analysis for the JNCC reports (Stevens et al. 2011[5] and Emmett et al. 2011)[6]. A synthesis of the N-manipulation experiments can be found in Phoenix et al. (2012)[7]. The UKREATE website also holds a wealth of information http://ukreate.defra.gov.uk/index.htm

Figure 5    National Ammonia Monitoring Network (NAMN).
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right [2015].
Figure 6    Precipitation Network and NO2-net (PrecipNet & NO2-net).
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right [2015].
Figure 7     UK EAP Acid Gas and Aerosol Network (AGANet).
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right [2015].
Table 3    Summary of UKEAP networks from Connolly et al (2011)[1]
Species Frequency Sites Sampler Analytical Techniques
PrecipNet Ionic composition of rain Fortnightly 38 Bulk rain sampler Ion


Daily Wet only EMEP Supersites Ionic composition of rain Daily 1 (2)* DWOC Sampler Ion


NO2-Net NO2 (g) 4-weekly 24 Diffusion tubes Colorimetry
AGANet Gas phase: HNO3, SO2, HCI (NH3)

Particulate: NO-, SO2-, CL-, Na-, Ca2+, Mg2+ (NH4-)

Monthly 30 DELTA samplers IC


NAMN NH3 (g) NH4+ (g) Monthly 85




Selected ion
Conductivity (AMFIA)
PSNet Sulphate Daily 5 Stopped n/a

* 2 sites from 03/09

Figure 8    UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) terrestrial and freshwater sites.
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right [2015].
Figure 9    UK Upland Waters Monitoring Network.
Contains OS data © Crown Copyright and database right [2015].


  1. 1.0 1.1 CONOLLY, C, LAWRENCE, H, VINCENT, K, DONOVAN, B, DAVIES, M, COLBECK, C, CAPE, J N, TANG, Y S, BEALEY, W J, LEAVER, D, POSKITT, J, BEITH, S, THACKER, S, HOCKENHULL, K, WOODS, C, SIMMONS, I, BRABAN, C F, VAN DYKE, N, ROWLAND, P, FOWLER, D, SUTTON, M A. 2011. UK Eutrophying and Acidifying Atmospheric Pollutants (UKEAP) Annual Report 2010. AEA Technology and NERC/Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, 33pp. (CEH Project Number: C03645) http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/14299/
  2. KERNAN M, BATTARBEE, R W, CURTIS, C, MONTEITH, D T, SHILLANDS, E M. 2010. Recovery of lakes and streams in the UK from acid rain. The United Kingdom Acid Waters Monitoring Network 20 year interpretati ve report. Report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. http://awmn.defra.gov.uk/resources/interpreports/20yearInterpRpt.pdf
  3. MONTEITH, D, SHERRIN, L, HENRYS, P, ROSE, R, HALFORD, A, SMART, S, and EVANS, C. 2012a. Monitoring of acidifying and eutrophifying deposition and ecological parameters at seven vulnerable Natura 2000 sites in England and Wales. First Report to the Power Station and Refinery Operators. Center for Ecology and Hydrology.
  4. RoTAP. 2012. Review of transboundary Air Pollution: Acidification, Eutrophication, Ground Level Ozone and Heavy Metals in the UK. Contract Report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Center for Ecology & Hydrology.
  5. STEVENS, C J, SMART, S M, HENRYS, P, MASKELL, L C, WALKER, K J, PRESTON, C D, CROWE, A, ROWE, E, GOWING, D J, and EMMETT, B A. 2011. Collation of evidence of nitrogen impacts on vegetation in relation to UK biodiversity objectives. JNCC Report, No. 447. http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/jncc447_web.pdf
  6. EMMET, B A, ROWE, E C, STEVENS, C J, GOWING, D J, HENRYS, P A, MASKELL, L C, and SMART, S M. 2011. Interpretation of evidence of nitrogen impacts on vitiation in relation to UK biodiversity objectives. JNCC Report No. 449.
  7. PHOENIX, G K, EMMETT, B A, BRITTON, A J, CAPORN, S J M, DISE, N B, HELLIWELL, R, JONES, L, LEAKE, J R, LEITH, I D, SHEPPARD, L J, SOWERBY, A, PILKINGTON, M G, ROWE, E C, ASHMORE, M R, and POWER, S A (2012). Impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition: responses of multiple plant and soil parameters across contrasting ecosystems in long-term field experiments. Gobal Change Biology 18(4), 1197–1215.