Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Focus

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 139-164

First online:

Chemistry of Selected High-Elevation Lakes in Seven National Parks in the Western United States

  • David W. ClowAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, WRD, MS Email author 
  • , Robert G. StrieglAffiliated withUSGS/WRD, MS
  • , Leora NanusAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, WRD, MS
  • , M. Alisa MastAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, WRD, MS
  • , Donald H. CampbellAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, WRD, MS
  • , David P. KrabbenhoftAffiliated with

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A chemical survey of 69 high-altitude lakes in seven national parks in the western United States was conducted during the fallof 1999; the lakes were previously sampled during the fall of 1985, as part of the Western Lake Survey. Lakes in parks in the Sierra/southern Cascades (Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks) and in the southern RockyMountains (Rocky Mountain National Park) were very dilute; medianspecific conductance ranged from 4.4 to 12.2 μS cm-1 andmedian alkalinity concentrations ranged from 32.2 to 72.9 μeqL-1. Specific conductances and alkalinity concentrations were substantially higher in lakes in the central and northernRocky Mountains parks (Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and GlacierNational Parks), probably due to the prevalence of more reactivebedrock types. Regional patterns in lake concentrations of NO3 and SO4 were similar to regional patterns in NO3 and SO4 concentrations in precipitation, suggestingthat the lakes are showing a response to atmospheric deposition.Concentrations of NO3 were particularly high in Rocky Mountain National Park, where some ecosystems appear to be undergoing nitrogen saturation.

alpine atmospheric deposition high-elevation lake chemistry monitoring nitrogen saturation subalpine