Wet and dry deposition of acidic substances, which are emitted to the atmosphere by human activities, have been falling on increasingly widespread areas throughout the world in recent decades. As a result, annual precipitation averages less than pH 4.5 over large areas of the Northern Temperate Zone, and not infrequently, individual rainstorms and cloud or fog-water events have pH values less than 3. Concurrently, thousands of lakes and streams in North America and Europe have become so acidified that they no longer support viable populations of fish and other organisms.
Acid deposition may affect sediments in lakes and streams in a variety of ways. In particular, the sediment-water exchange of metals, sulfur, nitrogen and phosphorus, microbial processes, growth of periphyton and macrophytes, and benthic invertebrates may be affected.
Overall, the effects of acid deposition on lake and stream ecosystems are the result of numerous and complex biogeochemical interactions, including catchment characteristics, flow path and residence time of water, and lake-basin morphometry and acid neutralization capacity of both aquatic and terrestrial (catchment) ecosystems.
Suggestions for future research are given.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Andersson, B. I., 1985. Properties and chemical composition of surficial sediments in the acidified Lake Gårdsjön, SW Sweden. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 251–262.
Andersson, F. & B. Olsson (eds.), 1985. Lake Gårdsjön: An Acid Forest Lake and its Catchment. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) No. 37, 336 pp.
Asbury, C. E., 1989. Groundwater seepage and its relationship to nutrient budgets and sediment chemistry in Mirror Lake, New Hampshire. Ph.D. Thesis, Cornel University.
Asbury, C. E.; F. A. Vertucci M. D. Mattson, & G. E. Likens, 1989. The acidification of Adirondack lakes. Environ. Sci. and Tech. (In Press).
Baker, J. P. & C. L. Schofield, 1980. Aluminum toxicity to fish as related to acid precipitation and Adirondack surface water quality. In D. Drabløs & A. Tollan (eds.). Ecological Impact of Acid Precipitation. SNSF Project, Ås, Norway: 292–293.
Baker, L. A., P. L. Brezonik & C. D. Pollman, 1986. Model of internal alkalinity generation: sulfate retention component. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 31: 89–94.
Battarbee, R. W., 1984. Diatom analysis and the acidification of lakes. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. London 305: 451–477.
Carignan, R., 1988. Seasonal dynamics of sulfur and hydrogen sulfide near the sediment-water interface of an oligotrophic lake. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 23 (2): 106–115.
Carignan, R. & A. Tessier, 1985. Zinc deposition in acid lakes: the role of diffusion. Science 228: 1524–1526.
Charles, D. F., 1984. Recent pH history of Big Moose Lake (Adirondack Mountains, New York, USA) inferred from sediment diatom assemblages. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 22: 559–566.
Charles, D. F., 1985. Relationships between surface sediment diatom assemblages and lakewater characteristics in Adirondack lakes. Ecology 66 (3): 994–1011.
Charles, D. F. & S. A. Norton. 1986. Paleolimnological evidence for trends in atmospheric deposition of acids and metals. In J. Gibson (chairman). Acid Deposition: Longterm Trends. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.: 335–506.
Charlson, R. J. & H. Rodhe, 1982. Factors controlling the acidity of natural rainwater. Nature 295: 683–685.
Chen, C. W., S. A. Gherini, N. E. Peters, P. S. Murdoch, R. M. Newton & R. A. Goldstein, 1984. Hydrologic analyses of acidic and alkaline lakes. Water Resour. Res. 12 (3): 360–364.
Cronan, C. S., 1985. Biogeochemical influence of vegetation and soils in the ILWAS watersheds. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 26: 355–371.
David, M. B. & C. T. Driscoll, 1984. Aluminum speciation and equilibria in soil solutions of a haplorthod in the Adirondack Mountains (New York, USA). Geoderma 33: 297–318.
Dickson, W., 1978. Some effects of the acidification of Swedish lakes. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 20: 851–856.
Dickson, W., 1983. Water acidification — effects and counter-measures. Summary Document. In Ecological Effects of Acid Deposition. National Swedish Environment Protection Board, Report PM1636, Stockholm: 267.
Drabløs, D. & A. Tollan (eds.), 1980. Ecological Impact of Acid Precipitation. SNSF Project, Ås, Norway. 383 pp.
Driscoll, C. T., J. N. Galloway, J. F. Hornig, G. E. Likens, M. Oppenheimer, K. A. Rahn & D. W. Schindler, 1985. Is there scientific consensus on acid rain? Excerpts from six governmental reports. Ad Hoc Committee on Acid Rain: Science and Policy. October 1985. Special Publication of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, The New York Botanical Garden, Millbrook, New York. 13 pp.
Eaton, J. S., G. E. Likens & F. H. Bormann, 1978. The input of gaseous and particulate sulfur to a forested ecosystem. Tellus 30: 546–551.
Eaton, J. S., G. E. Likens & F. H. Bormann, 1980. Wet and dry deposition of sulfur at Hubbard Brook. In T. C. Hutchinson & M. Havas (eds.). Effect of Acid Precipitation on Terrestrial Ecosystems. NATO Conf. Series 1: Ecology 4. Plenum Publishing Corp.: 69–75.
Ford, M. S., 1984. The influence of lithology on ecosystem development in New England: a comparative paleoecological study. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Fuller, R. D., C. T. Driscoll, G. B. Lawrence & S. C. Nodvin, 1987. Processes regulating sulphate flux after wholetree harvesting. Nature 125: 707–710.
Gahnstrom, G., 1985. Sediment oxygen uptake in the acidified Lake Gårdsjön, Sweden. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 276–286.
Gahnström, G. & S. Fleischer, 1985. Microbial glucose transformation in sediment from acid lakes. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 287–292.
Galloway, J. N., 1986. Testimony to the Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 2 October 1986.
Galloway, J. N. & G. E. Likens, 1979. Atmospheric enhancement of metal deposition in Adirondack lake sediments. Limnol. Oceanogr. 24(3): 427–433.
Galloway, J. N., G. E. Likens & M. E. Hawley, 1984. Acid precipitation: natural versus anthropogenic components. Science 226: 829–831.
Galloway, J. N., G. E. Likens, W. C. Keene & J. M. Miller. 1982a. The composition of precipitation in remote areas of the world. J. Geophys. Res. 87 (11): 8771–8786.
Galloway, J. N., J. D. Thornton, S. A. Norton, H. L. Volchok & R. A. N. McLean, 1982b. Trace metals in atmospheric deposition: A review and assessment. Atmos. Environ. 16 (7): 1677–1700.
Gibson, J. H. (chairman), 1986. Acid Deposition: LongTerm Trends. Environmental Studies Board, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 506 pp.
Gorham, E., F. B. Martin & J. T. Litzau, 1984. Acid rain ionic correlations in the eastern USA 1980–1981. Science 225: 407–409.
Grahn, O., H. Hultberg & L. Landner, 1974. Oligotrophication — a self-acceleration process in lakes subjected to excessive supply of acid substances. Ambio 3: 93–94.
Grennfelt, P., S. Larsson, P. Leyton & B. Olsson, 1985. Atmospheric deposition in the Lake Gårdsjön area, SW Sweden. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 101–108.
Griffin, J. J. & E. D. Goldberg, 1979. Morphologies and origin of elemental carbon in the environment. Science 206: 563–565.
Haines, T., 1986. Fish population trends in response to surface water acidification. In J. Gibson (chairman). Acid Deposition: Long-term Trends. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.: 300–334.
Hall, R. J., G. E. Likens, S. B. Fiance & G. R. Hendrey, 1980. Experimental acidification of a stream in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire. Ecology 61 (4): 976–989.
Hall, R. J., C. T. Driscoll & G. E. Likens, 1987. Importance of hydrogen ions and aluminium in regulating the structure and function of stream ecosystems: an experimental test. Freshwat. Biol. 18: 17–43.
Hedin, L. O., G. E. Likens & F. H. Bormann, 1987. Decrease in precipitation acidity resulting from decreased SO4 2- concentration. Nature 325: 244–246.
Hedin, L. O., M. S. Mayer & G. E. Likens, 1988. The effect of deforestation on organic debris dams. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 23 (2): 1135–1141.
Hendrey, G. R. & F. A. Vertucci, 1980. Benthic plant communities in acidic Lake Colden, New York: Sphagnum and the algal mat. In D. Drables & A. Tollan (eds.). Ecological Impact on Acid Precipitation. SNSF Project Ås, Norway: 314–315.
Hornbeck, J. W., G. E. Likens & J. S. Eaton, 1976. Seasonal variation in acidity of precipitation and the implications for forest-stream ecosystems. In L. S. Dochinger & T. A. Seliga (eds.). Proc. of the First Internat. Symp. on Acid Precipitation and the Forest Ecosystem. USDA Forest Service General Tech. Report NE-23: 597–609.
Hultberg, H., 1976. Thermally stratified acid water in late winter — a key factor inducing self-accelerating processes which increase acidification. In L. S. Dochinger & T. A. Seliga (eds.). Proc. of the First Internat. Symp. on Acid Precipitation and the Forest Ecosystem. USDA Forest Service, General Tech. Report NE-23: 503–517.
Hultberg, H., 1985. Changes in fish populations and water chemistry in Lake Gårdsjön and neighbouring lakes during the last century. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 64–72.
Jacks, G., E. Olofsson & G. Werme, 1986. An acid surge in a well-buffered stream. Ambio 15 (5): 282–285.
Jackson, T. A., G. Kipphut, R. H. Hesslein & D. W. Schindler, 1980. Experimental study of trace metal chemistry in soft-water lakes at different pH levels. Can. J. Aquat. Sci. 37: 387–402.
Jeffries, D. C., C. M. Cox & P. J. Dillon, 1979. Depression of stream pH in lakes and streams in central Ontario during snowmelt. J. Fish. Res. Bd. Can. 36: 640–646.
Johannessen, M. & A. Henriksen, 1978. Chemistry of snow meltwater: changes in concentration during melting. Water Resour. Res. 14: 615–619.
Johannessen, M., A. Skartveit & R. F. Wright, 1980. Streamwater chemistry before, during and after snowmelt. In D. Drables & A. Tollan (eds.). Ecological Impact of Acid Precipitation. SNSF Project, Ås, Norway: 224–225.
Johannessen, M., T. Dale, E. T. Gjessing, A. Henriksen & R. F. Wright, 1976. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Isotopes and Impurities in Snow and Ice. Internat. Assoc. of Hydrobiological Science, Grenoble, France, August 1975. Internat. Association of Hydrological Science Publ. 118.
Johnson, D. W., J. W. Hornbeck, J. M. Kelly, W. T. Swank & D. E. Todd, 1980. Regional patterns of soil sulfate accumulation: Relevance to ecosystem sulfur budgets. In D. S. Shriner, C. R. Richmond & S. E. Lindberg (eds.). Atmospheric Sulfur Deposition: Environmental Impact and Health Effects. Ann Arbor Science, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 507–520.
Johnson, D. W., J. Turner & J. M. Kelly, 1982. The effects of acid precipitation on forest nutrient status. Water Resour. Res. 18: 449–461.
Kramer, J. R., A. W. Andren, R. A. Smith, A. H. Johnson, R. B. Alexander & G. Oehlert, 1986. Streams and lakes. In J. Gibson (chairman). Acid Deposition: Long-Term Trends. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.: 231–299.
Lazarek, S., 1985. Ephiphytic algal production in the acidified Lake Gårdsjön, SW Sweden. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 213–218.
Likens, G. E., 1984. Beyond the shoreline: a watershed-ecosystem approach. Verh. int. Ver. Limnol. 22: 1–22.
Likens, G. E., 1985. An experimental approach for the study of ecosystems. J. Ecol. 73: 381–396.
Likens, G. E., 1987. Chemical wastes in our atmosphere — an ecological crisis. Industrial Crisis Quarterly 1: 13–33.
Likens, G. E. & R. E. Bilby, 1982. Development, maintenance and role of organic-debris dams in New England streams. In F. J. Swanson, R. J. Janda, T. Dunne & D. W. Swanston (eds.). Sediment Budgets and Routing in Forested Drainage Basins. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-141: 122–128.
Likens, G. E. & F. H. Bormann, 1974. Acid rain: a serious regional environmental problem. Science 184: 1176–1179.
Likens, G. E. & T. J. Butler, 1981. Recent acidification of precipitation in North America. Atmos. Environ. 15 (7): 1103–1109.
Likens, G. E. & R. E. Moeller, 1985. Chemistry. In G. E. Likens (ed.). An Ecosystem Approach to Aquatic Ecology: Mirror Lake ant its Environment. Springer-Verlag New York Inc.: 392–410.
Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann, N. M. Johnson, D. W. Fisher & R. S. Pierce, 1970. The effect of forest cutting and herbicide treatment on nutrient budgets in the Hubbard Brook watershed-ecosystem. Ecol. Monogr. 40 (1): 23–47.
Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann & N. M. Johnson, 1972. Acid rain. Environment 14: 33–40.
Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann, R. S. Pierce, J. S. Eaton & N. M. Johnson, 1977. Biogeochemistry of a Forested Ecosystem. Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 146 pp.
Likens, G. E., R. F. Wright, J. N. Galloway & T. J. Butler, 1979. Acid rain. Sci. Amer. 241: 43–51.
Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann, R. S. Pierce, J. S. Eaton & R. E. Munn, 1984. Long-term trends in precipitation chemistry at Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. Atmos. Environ. 18: 2641–2647.
Likens, G. E., F. H. Bormann, R. S. Pierce & J. S. Eaton, 1985a. The Hubbard Brook Valley. In G. E. Likens (ed.). An Ecosystem Approach to Aquatic Ecology: Mirror Lake and its Environment. Springer-Verlag New York Inc.: 9–39.
Likens, G. E., J. S. Eaton, N. M. Johnson & R. S. Pierce, 1985b. Flux and balance of water and chemicals. In G. E. Likens (ed.). An Ecosystem Approach to Aquatic Ecology: Mirror Lake and Its Environment. Springer-Verlag New York Inc.: 135–155.
Likens, G. E., W. C. Keene, J. M. Miller & J. N. Galloway, 1987. Chemistry of precipitation from a remote, terrestrial site in Australia. J. Geophys. Res. 92: 13299–13314.
NADP/NTN Annual Data Summary. Precipitation Chemistry in the United States. 1986. NADP/NTN Coordinator's Office, Colorado St. University, Ft. Collins, Colorado. 240 pp.
Nilsson, S. I., 1985. Why is Lake Gårdsjön acid? — An evaluation of processes contributing to soil and water acidification. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 311–318.
Nodvin, S. C., C. T. Driscoll & G. E. Likens, 1986. The effect of pH on sulfate adsorption by a forest soil. Soil Science 142: 69–75.
Norton, S. (chairman), 1984. Acid Deposition: Processes of Lake Acidification. Environmental Studies Board, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 11 pp.
Odén, S., 1968. The acidification of air and precipitation and its consequences on the natural environment. Swedish National Science Res. Council, Ecology Committee, Bulletin 1. 68 pp.
Office of Technology Assessment, 1984. Acid rain and transported air pollutants: Implications for public policy. Report OTA-0–204. Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress, Washington, D.C. 323 pp.
Overrein, L. N., H. M. Seip & A. Tollan, 1980. Acid precipitation — effects on forest and fish. Final Report of the SNSF — Project 1972–1980. FR 19/80, Oslo, Norway. 175 pp.
Persson, G. & O. Broberg, 1985. Nutrient concentrations in the acidified Lake Gårdsjön: the role of transport and retention of phosphorus, nitrogen and DOC in watershed and lake. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 158–175.
Psenner, R., 1987. The role of sediments in the alkalinity production of alpine and subalpine lakes. Fourth Internat. Symposium on the Interactions between Sediments and Water. Melbourne, Australia, February 1987. Abstr. 114.
Renberg, I., 1985. Influences of acidification on the sediment chemistry of Lake Gårdsjön, Sweden. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 246–250.
Renberg, I. & J. E. Wallin, 1985. The history of the acidification of Lake Gårdsjön as deduced from diatoms and Sphagnum leaves in the sediment. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 47–52.
Renberg, I. & M. Wik, 1985. Soot particle counting in recent lake sediments. An indirect dating method. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 53–57.
Renberg, I., T. Hellberg & M. Nilsson, 1985. Effects of acidification on diatom communities as revealed by analyses of lake sediments. Ecol. Bull. (Stockholm) 37: 219–223.
Reuss, J. O. & D. W. Johnson, 1985. Effect of soil processes on the acifidication of water by acid deposition. J. Environ. Qual. 14: 26–31.
Reuss, J. O. & D. W. Johnson, 1986. Acid Deposition and the Acidification of Soils and Waters. Ecological Studies 59. Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 119 pp.
Rippey, B., R. J. Murphy & S. W. Kyle, 1982. Anthropogenically derived changes in the sedimentary flux of Mg, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Hg, Pb and P in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. Envir. Sci. Technol. 16: 23–30.
Ryan, P. F., J. N. Galloway, B. J. Cosby, G. M. Hornberger & J. R. Webb, 1989. Seasonal and interannual variations in the chemical composition of streamwater in two catchments impacted by acidic deposition. Submitted for publication.
Schindler, D. W., 1985. The coupling of elemental cycles by organisms: evidence from whole-lake chemical perturbations. Chapter 11. In W. Stumm (ed.). Chemical Processes in Lakes. John Wiley & Sons, New York: 225–250.
Schindler, D. W., R. H. Hesslein, R. Wagemann & W. S. Broecker, 1980a. Effects of acidification on mobilization of heavy metals and radionuclides from the sediments of a freshwater lake. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 37: 373–377.
Schindler, D. W., R. Wagemann, R. B. Cook, T. Ruszczynski & J. Prokopowich, 1980b. Experimental acidification of Lake 223, Experimental Lakes Area: I. Background data and the first three years of acidification. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sci. 37: 342–354.
Schindler, D. W., M. A. Turner, M. P. Stainton & G. A. Linsey, 1986. Natural sources of acid neutralizing capacity in low alkalinity lakes of the Precambrian Shield. Science 232: 844–847.
Schnoor, J. L. and W. Stumm, 1985. Acidification of aquatic and terrestrial systems. In W. Stumm (ed.). Chemical Processes in Lakes. John Wiley & Sons, New York: 311–338.
Schafran, G. C. & C. T. Driscoll, 1989. Relationships between seepage chemistry and flowpaths through the near-shore sediments of an acidic lake. Submitted for publication.
Schofield, C.-L., 1976. Acid precipitation: effects on fish. Ambio 5: 228–236.
Sherman, J., 1985. Diatoms. In G. E. Likens (ed.). An Ecosystem Approach to Aquatic Ecology: Mirror Lake and its Environment. Springer-Verlag New York Inc.: 366–382.
Smith, R. A., 1872. Air and Rain. The Beginnings of Chemical Climatology. Longmans, Green and Co., London. 600 pp.
Smith, R. A. & R. B. Alexander, 1986. Correlations between stream sulphate and regional SO2 emissions. Nature 322: 722–724.
Swank, W. T., J. W. Fitzgerald & J. T. Ash, 1984. Microbial transformation of sulfate in forest soils. Science 223: 182–184.
Ulrich, B., R. Mayer & P. K. Khanna, 1980. Chemical changes due to acid precipitation in a loess-derived soil in central Europe. Soil Science 130: 193–199.
Weathers, K. C., G. E. Likens, F. H. Bormann, J. S. Eaton, K. D. Kimball, J. N. Galloway, T. G. Siccama & D. Smiley, 1988. Chemical concentrations in cloud water from four sites in the eastern United States. In M. H. Unsworth and D. Fowler (eds.), Acid Deposition at High Elevation Sites. Kluwer Academic Publishers: 345–357.
Whitehead, D. R., D. F. Charles, S. T. Jackson, S. E. Reed & M. C. Sheehan, 1986. Late-glacial and Holocene acidity changes in Adirondack (N.Y.) lakes. In J. P. Smol, R. W. Battarbee, R. B. Davis and J. Merilainen (eds.). Diatoms and Lake Acidity. Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht: 251–274.
Wright, R. F., 1983. Predicting acidification of North American lakes. Norwegian Inst. Water Research, Report No. 0-81036, Oslo. 165 pp.
Wright, R. F., T. Dale, E. T. Gjessing, G. R. Hendrey, A. Henriksen, M. Johannessen & I. P. Muniz, 1976. Impact of acid precipitation on fresh-water ecosystems in Norway. In L. S. Dochinger and T. A. Seliga (eds.). Proc. of the First Internat. Symp. on Acid Precipitation and the Forest Ecosystem. USDA Forest Service General Tech. Report NE-23: 459–476.
About this article
Cite this article
Likens, G.E. Acid rain and its effects on sediments in lakes and streams. Hydrobiologia 176, 331–348 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00026568
- acid rain
- sediment-water exchange
- water pollution
- aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem interaction