Understanding the response of soil and surface waters to changes in atmospheric deposition is critical for guiding future legislation on air pollution. The Adirondack region of New York experiences among the most severe ecological impacts from acidic deposition. The region is characterized by considerable variability in atmospheric deposition, surficial and bedrock geology, hydrologic flow paths, and vegetation resulting in variability in effects of acidic deposition. In this study, an integrated biogeochemical model (PnET-BGC) was applied to 37 forest lake watersheds to assess the response of soil and surface waters of the Adirondacks to changes in atmospheric deposition at a regional scale. Model-simulated surface water chemistry was validated against data from two synoptic surveys conducted in 1984 and 2001. Results indicate that the model is able to capture the observed changes in surface water chemistry during this period. The model was further used to forecast the response of soil and surface waters to three future emission control scenarios. Results indicate that under the Clean Air Act, surface water SO4 2- concentrations will continue to decrease at a median rate of -0.38 μeq/L-yr, and surface water ANC is predicted to increase at a median rate of 0.11 μeq/L-yr. More aggressive emission reductions will accelerate the rate of recovery. Under an aggressive control scenario, which represents an additional 75% reduction in SO2 emissions beyond the implementation of the Clean Air Act, surface water SO42- concentrations are predicted to decrease at a median rate of -0.88 μeq/L-yr, and surface water ANC is predicted to increase at a median rate of 0.43 μeq/L-yr. Model predictions of several biologically relevant chemical indicators are also reported.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry