Acidification and Prognosis for Future Recovery of Acid-Sensitive Streams in the Southern Blue Ridge Province
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This study applied the Model of Acidification of Groundwater in Catchments (MAGIC) to estimate the sensitivity of 66 watersheds in the Southern Blue Ridge Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, United States, to changes in atmospheric sulfur (S) deposition. MAGIC predicted that stream acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) values were above 20 μeq/L in all modeled watersheds in 1860. Hindcast simulations suggested that the median historical acidification of the modeled streams was a loss of about 25 μeq/L of ANC between 1860 and 2005. Although the model projected substantial changes in soil and stream chemistry since pre-industrial times, simulated future changes in response to emission controls were small. Results suggested that modeled watersheds would not change to a large degree with respect to stream ANC or soil % base saturation over the next century in response to a rather large decrease in atmospheric S deposition. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the relatively small simulated future changes in stream and soil chemistry depended on the extent to which S emissions are reduced. This projection of minimal recovery in response to large future S emissions reductions is important for designing appropriate management strategies for acid-impacted water and soil resources. Exploratory analyses were conducted to put some of the major modeling uncertainties into perspective.
KeywordsSulfur Atmospheric deposition Base cation Acidification Modeling
This research was funded by a contract from the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station, to E&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc. Interpolated wet deposition estimates were provided by J. Grimm. This manuscript has not been subjected to agency review, and no official endorsement is implied.
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