Acid Rain Research

Acid Rain Research-40
High-elevation lakes, like Horns Pond along Maine’s Bigelow Mountain Range, serve as sentinels for potential environmental change.

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The study found that DOC concentrations in high-elevation lakes have increased in response to dwindling sulfate and increased temperature and precipitation.

When sulfate decreases, DOC increases; when temperature and precipitation increase, so does DOC.

Credit: Sarah Nelson Rapid industrialization in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in significant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere.

Atmospheric pollutants traveled thousands of kilometers from Midwestern industrial sites and were deposited in the Northeast—the influx of these pollutants spawned the atmospheric scourge known as acid rain.

Modeling studies indicate aqueous oxidation of SOâ to SOâ(2-) occurs in cloud droplets, with HâOâ implicated as the primary oxidant.

Knowledge of gas/liquid mass-transfer rates for these species is critical to modeling of the heterogeneous cloud process.In the 1970s and 1980s the issue of acid rain captured international headlines.Acid rain is today not such a problem, and might present a way forward for how to deal with global warming. more In the 1970s and 1980s the issue of acid rain captured international headlines.Increases in DOC concentrations are often referred to as “brownification”: The yellow-brown color caused by dissolved humic matter imparts a darker stain to DOC-rich waters.This darkening of waters has implications for water clarity, water temperature, lake stratification dynamics, carbon cycling, and nutrient and light availability for aquatic organisms.Acid rain causes a suite of ecological effects and increases the acidity of freshwater lakes by depositing sulfate into lake ecosystems. Regulation has helped reduce the concentrations of sulfur and nitrogen in the atmosphere, with subsequent reductions in aquatic sulfate and acidity, but climate change is now ushering in both physical and biological shifts in the environment.In New England, climate change manifests as increases in air temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events.To understand how changing acidity and climate affects northeastern lakes, analyzed a subset of high-elevation lakes in Maine.High-elevation lakes are considered sentinel sites that serve as harbingers of broader environmental change because they are more sensitive than their lower-elevation counterparts.It is from the perspective of scientists working in an assessment program that the following "lessons learned" are developed: (1) Get the policy questions clear; (2) Focus science on science questions; (3) Feed the client regularly; (4) Conduct an assessment at the end — and at the beginning; (5) Learn to live with 80%; (6) Recognize that research enterprises are more easily corrupted than individual scientists; ( 7) Keep the "is" and the "ought" separate; (8) Avoid hubris before the mahogany table; (9) Remember that the distribution of benefits and costs is crucial; (10) Appreciate that research budgets follow fear; (11) Put those resources on the table; and (12) Help policy analysts and decision makers outgrow their science-envy.Participating in NAPAP was sometimes painful for many scientists, but it was also rewarding.


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