Relationship Between Landscape Characteristics, History, and Lakewater Acidification in the Adirondack Mountains, New York
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Interactions between acidic deposition and watershed characteristics were evaluated for a group of lakes in the Adirondack Mountains, New York. Landscape characteristics were compiled and examined relative to paleolimnological inferences of historical acidification. Results of estimates of acidification using the Model of Acidification of Groundwater in Catchments (MAGIC) and paleolimnological analysis were compared to physical, biological, and landscape change data, including such factors as watershed disturbance, logging, fire, and windthrow, to evaluate if inclusion of additional processes could improve model estimates. Results of bivariate and multivariate analysis confirmed that lakes that have experienced historical acidification tend to be those that receive relatively high amounts of precipitation and have short hydraulic residence times. These variables explained 58% of the diatom-inferred acidification. A combined model of long-term precipitation amount, hydraulic residence time, and recent blowdown accounted for 71% of the historic acidification in the Adirondacks. Lakes that have increased in pH since pre-industrial times tend to be those subject to substantial human disturbance and those that burned during major fires recorded after 1900. The magnitude of the discrepancy between MAGIC model and diatom-inferred hindcasts of acidification was not significantly correlated with any of the landscape change variables, suggesting that additional modifications to the MAGIC model to take into account landscape change are not likely to appreciably improve model performance.
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