• DOC;
  • peat;
  • drought index

[1] Changes in atmospheric deposition have been proposed as one possible explanation of the widespread increase in DOC concentration observed in many Northern Hemisphere catchments. This study uses detailed, long-term, monthly monitoring records of pH, conductivity SO4, and DOC in precipitation, soil water, and runoff chemistry from an upland peat-covered catchment in northern England. By deriving impulse transfer functions this study explores whether changes in deposition lead to significant changes in the occurrence of each component in the soil and runoff water; especially significant changes in DOC. The study shows that (1) impulses in the deposition of acidity have no significant effect upon pH or DOC in soil water or runoff. (2) DOC in soil water and runoff is responsive to impulses in SO4 and conductivity, but only when those impulses are changes in soil water chemistry and not when they are in atmospheric deposition. (3) The effects of changes in SO4 and/or conductivity can easily be overemphasized if memory effects are not accounted for, and their effect is limited to only 1 or 2 months after a severe drought. This study can support the view that changes in ionic strength can result in changes in DOC concentration in soil water or runoff, but the system studied is unresponsive to changes in atmospheric deposition. Impulses in soil water SO4 do not lead to increases in DOC concentrations, and so this mechanism does not provide an explanation for DOC increases.