Local to regional emission sources affecting mercury fluxes to New York lakes

Revital Bookman, Charles T. Driscoll, Daniel R. Engstrom, Steven W. Effler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Lake-sediment records across the Northern Hemisphere show increases in atmospheric deposition of anthropogenic mercury (Hg) over the last 150 years. Most of the previous studies have examined remote lakes affected by the global atmospheric Hg reservoir. In this study, we present Hg flux records from lakes in an urban/suburban setting of central New York affected also by local and regional emissions. Sediment cores were collected from the Otisco and Skaneateles lakes from the Finger Lakes region, Cross Lake, a hypereutrophic lake on the Seneca River, and Glacial Lake, a small seepage lake with a watershed that corresponds with the lake area. Sediment accumulation rates and dates were established by 210Pb. The pre-anthropogenic regional atmospheric Hg flux was estimated to be 3.0 μg m-2 yr-1 from Glacial Lake, which receives exclusively direct atmospheric deposition. Mercury fluxes peaked during 1971-2001, and were 3 to more than 30 times greater than pre-industrial deposition. Land use change and urbanization in the Otisco and Cross watersheds during the last century likely enhanced sediment loads and Hg fluxes to the lakes. Skaneateles and Glacial lakes have low sediment accumulation rates, and thus are excellent indicators for atmospheric Hg deposition. In these lakes, we found strong correlations with emission records for the Great Lakes region that markedly increased in the early 1900s, and peaked during WWII and in the early 1970s. Declines in modern Hg fluxes are generally evident in the core records. However, the decrease in sediment Hg flux at Glacial Lake was interrupted and has increased since the early 1990s probably due to the operation of new local emission sources. Assuming the global Hg reservoir tripled since the pre-industrial period, the contribution of local and regional emission sources to central New York lakes was estimated to about 80% of the total atmospheric Hg deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6088-6097
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number24
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Mercury
  • Northeastern US
  • Pb dating
  • Sediment cores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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