An integrated analysis of a terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem, the North Branch of the Moose River in the Adirondack region of New York, was conducted. This basin contains a large number of interconnected surface waters that exhibit marked gradients in pH and acid neutralizing capacity (ANC). As a result, the basin has been the focus of research activity, including the Regional Integrated Lake-Watershed Acidification Study (RILWAS). The objective of the current analysis was to use the North Branch of the Moose River as a case study to: 1. Evaluate processes regulating the acid-base chemistry of surface waters. 2. To assess the effects of surface water acidification on fish populations. The observations of this study were consistent with the model of surface water acidification developed during the Integrated Lake-Watershed Acidification Study (ILWAS). The processes depicted in the original ILWAS simulation model were adequate to describe the acid-base chemistry of surface waters in the North Branch of the Moose River. However, the reduction of SO4 2- in lake sediments, a process not represented in the original model, proved to be a significant source of acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) for some of these waters. As a result, reduction processes were added to the model. Analysis of in-situ bioassay and survey data indicate that acid-sensitive fish species have disappeared from the more acidic areas of the basin over the last half century. Paleoecological analyses indicate that pH has decreased from the high 5's to about 5 in Big Moose Lake during this period. ILWAS model simulations indicate that the pH of Big Moose Lake would increase by at least 0.1 to 0.5 pH units (depending on the season) in response to a 50% reduction in total atmospheric S deposition. Considerable variability in processes regulating acid/base chemistry was evident in the North Branch of the Moose River. Therefore, regional assessments of past or possible future effects of acidic deposition require widespread application of ILWAS theory within the Adirondack region and other potentially acid-sensitive areas.
- acid deposition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)