Lead pollution

Mining and smelting have been a source of lead atmospheric pollution since ancient times. Atmospheric lead may travel long distances before it is deposited on remote ecosystems like alpine lakes. A sediment core retrieved in Lake Redon revealed that lead pollution started here already 2,700 years ago, and peaked in the VII century. Further studies have shown a widespread contamination in sediments from lakes accross the Pyrenees. And moreover, there is a lead legacy stored for centuries in soils that is been leached nowadays causing a delayed pollution to lakes.


We monitor a number of biogeochemical and biodiversity variables in atmospheric deposition, lakes and streams in several experimental catchments of the Central Pyrenees. Our aim is to reveal environmental changes that, because the remoteness of our study sites, are a reflection of global change. Multi-decadal data series allow us to detect early indications of change and to establish the causal links.


A number of sediments cores retrieved from different lakes have allowed us to reconstruct climate and human influence on remote mountain lakes and surrounding ecosystems during the last 15,000 years. In the current context of global change, mountain lake sediments contain an invaluable information on postindustrial changes that can be benchmarked against early, predisturbance, intervals. The palaeolimnological reconstructions allow us to extend our contemporary observations back in time, and offers a reference to assess the importance of present day changes.

Regional limnology

The Pyrenees hold a lake district with a few more than one thousand alpine lakes. Lithological, climatic, and altitudinal gradients have an effect on the physics, chemistry and biology of the lakes. Several surveys, carried since 1987 at decadal intervals, have provided a synoptic picture of the variability in the Pyrenean limnology and revealed the major time trends caused by the diverse environmental drivers at a regional scale.

Atmospheric N deposition

Humans have dramatically disturbed the earth's N cycle to the point that this alteration is considered one of the most serious threats to the global ecosystem. Part of the excess N circulates through the atmosphere and is deposited with precipitation, reaching areas that would otherwise be free of direct human impact. Atmospherically deposited N has an acidifying effect on aquatic ecosystems, and causes also changes in the pattern of ecological nutrient limitation in lakes. Pyrenean catchments are saturated of N of human origin and streams are leaching that N excess.

Lake Redon field work

Lake Redo have been investigated since 1983 and regular monitoring is carried out since 1995. Througout these years many topics have been address and experiments performed supported by the on-shore facilites.  

The underwater gardens of the Pyrenees

Together with high peaks, lakes are one of the outstanding features in high mountain landscapes. Mountaineers know and enjoy the beauty of these blue spots framed by mountains, meadows and forests. But few people know the secret landscapes hiden under their water surface. In this clip, we dive into several lakes in the Aig├╝estortes National Park to discover the underwater gardens of the Pyrenees

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