Chemical response of lakes in the Adirondack Region of New York to declines in acidic deposition

Charles T. Driscoll, Kimberley M. Driscoll, Karen M. Roy, Myron J. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


Long-term changes in the chemistry of wet deposition and lake water were investigated in the Adirondack Region of New York. Marked decreases in concentrations of SO42- and H+ in wet deposition have occurred at two sites since the late 1970s. These decreases are consistent with long-term declines in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) in the eastern United States. Changes in wet NO3- deposition and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions have been minor over the same interval. Virtually all Adirondack Lakes have shown marked decreases in concentrations of SO42-, which coincide with decreases in atmospheric S deposition. Concentrations of NO3- have also decreased in several Adirondack lakes. As atmospheric N deposition has not changed over this period, the mechanism contributing to this apparent increase in lake/watershed N retention is not evident. Decreases in concentrations of SO42- + NO3- have resulted in increases in acidneutralizing capacity (ANC) and pH and resulted in a shift in the speciation of monomeric Al from toxic inorganic species toward less toxic organic forms in some lakes. Nevertheless, many lakes continue to exhibit pH values and concentrations of inorganic monomeric Al that are critical to aquatic biota. Extrapolation of rates of ANC increase suggests that the time frame of chemical recovery of Adirondack Lakes will be several decades if current decreases in acidic deposition are maintained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2036-2042
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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