In many regions, naturally occurring organic acid anions can effectively buffer mineral acid inputs from atmospheric deposition, moderating their effect on surface water pH. We studied the effect of chronically high inputs of acid rain on the chemistry of three brown-water streams in the western Czech Republic. The dissolved organic acids in the streams were similar in character to those of other systems in Europe and North America. The site densities (the carboxyl group content per mass of C) were similar to values reported from Fenno-Scandia, and the relationship between the apparent pK(a) and pH conformed to those from two North American studies. Sulfate and organic acid anions (OA-) were the dominant anions in all three streams, yet despite high dissolved organic carbon and total organic acid concentrations, OA- comprised only 21-32% of total anion charge. This pattern was due to very high sulfate concentrations and, in two of the streams, a low degree of dissociation of the organic acids, probably the results of high long-term inputs of strong acids. Stream water pH was highly correlated to sulfate concentration, but uncorrelated with OA-, suggesting that free acidity is controlled by strong mineral acids rather than organic acids. Thus future reductions in strong acid inputs should result in increased pH and a return to organic control over acid-base chemistry.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology