The response of lake water in the Adirondack region of New York to changes in acidic deposition

C. T. Driscoll, K. M. Postek, D. Mateti, K. Sequeira, J. D. Aber, W. J. Kretser, M. J. Mitchell, D. J. Raynal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The Adirondack region of New York is characterized by a large number of lakes with low values of acid neutralizing capacity (ANC; ~25% of lakes have summer ANC values <0 μeq/l), which are sensitive to atmospheric deposition of strong acids. Time-series analysis showed that concentrations of sulfate (SO42-), nitrate (NO3-), ammonium (NH4+) and basic cations have decreased in precipitation, resulting in increases in pH. A relatively uniform rate of decline in SO42- concentrations in lakes across the region (1.91±0.27 μeq/l yr) suggests that this change was due to decreases in atmospheric deposition. Despite the marked declines in concentrations of SO42- in Adirondack lakes, there has been no systematic increase in pH and ANC. The limited response of lake water ANC and pH to decreases in atmospheric deposition of SO42- may be attributed to a combination of factors, including: (1) depletion of exchangeable pools of basic cations in soil, (2) additional inputs of SO42- to watersheds in the form of unmeasured dry deposition and/or an internal supply of sulfur (S) from mineralization of soil organic S pools or weathering of S minerals, (3) elevated leaching losses of NO3-, and/or (4) pH buffering associated with elevated concentrations of aluminum (Al) and/or naturally organic acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Acid neutralizing capacity
  • Acidic deposition
  • Adirondacks
  • Lakes
  • Nitrogen saturation
  • Sulfate
  • Surface water acidification
  • Water chemistry trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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