Long-term temporal trends and spatial patterns in the acid-base chemistry of lakes in the Adirondack region of New York in response to decreases in acidic deposition

Charles T Driscoll, Kimberley M. Driscoll, Habibollah Fakhraei, Kevin Civerolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the response of lake water chemistry in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, USA to decreases in acid deposition. Striking declines in the concentrations and fluxes of sulfate and hydrogen ion in wet deposition have been observed since the late 1970s, while significant decreases in nitrate have been evident since the early 2000s. Decreases in estimated dry sulfur and nitrate deposition have also occurred in the Adirondacks, but with no change in dry to wet deposition ratios. These patterns follow long-term decreases in anthropogenic emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the U.S. over the same interval. All of the 48 lakes monitored through the Adirondack Long-Term Monitoring program since 1992 have exhibited significant declines in sulfate concentrations, consistent with reductions in atmospheric deposition of sulfur. Nitrate concentrations have also significantly diminished at variable rates in many (33 of 48) lakes. Decreases in concentrations of sulfate plus nitrate (48 of 48) in lakes have driven widespread increases in acid neutralizing capacity (ANC; 42 of 48) and lab pH (33 of 48), and decreases in the toxic fraction, inorganic monomeric Al (45 of 48). Coincident with decreases in acid deposition, concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) have also increased in some (29 of 48) lakes. While recovery from elevated acid deposition is evident across Adirondack lakes, highly sensitive and impacted mounded seepages lakes and thin till drainage lakes are recovering most rapidly. Future research might focus on how much additional recovery could be achieved given the current deposition relative to future deposition anticipated under the Clean Power Plan, ecosystem effects of increased mobilization of dissolved organic matter, and the influence of changing climate on recovery from acidification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Acid neutralizing capacity
  • Acidic deposition
  • Adirondacks
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Lakes
  • Nitrate
  • Sulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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