EPA Science Inventory

Response of DOC in acid-sensitive Maine lakes to decreasing sulfur deposition (1993 - 2009)

Citation:

OELSNER, G. P., M. D. SanClements, D. M. McKnight, AND J. L. STODDARD. Response of DOC in acid-sensitive Maine lakes to decreasing sulfur deposition (1993 - 2009). Presented at 2010 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 13 - 17, 2010.

Description:

In response to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, sulfur deposition has decreased across the northeastern United States. As a result, sulfate concentrations in lakes and streams have also decreased and many surface waters have become less acidic. Over the same time period, there has been a concurrent increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations in many lakes and streams which has been difficult to interpret. To assess the biogeochemical processes driving increasing DOC concentrations we analyzed archived samples from 9 acid-sensitive lakes in Maine collected between 1993 and 2009 using UV-Vis and fluorescence spectroscopy. The fluorescence index (FI) was calculated for all samples. The FI represents the ratio of the emission intensity at 450 nm to 550 nm at an excitation wavelength of 370 nm and provides information regarding the source of dissolved organic matter (DOM). This index has a value of approximately 1.9 for microbially derived fluvic acids and a value of approximately 1.4 for terrestrially (higher-plant) derived fluvic acids. All four lakes with increasing DOC trends had concomitant decreases in the FI index. Two of five lakes with no significant DOC trend also demonstrated no trend in FI values over time, while three lakes revealed a decrease in FI values. To confirm that the FI measured in whole water was primarily reflective of fulvic acids (FA), XAD-resin was used to isolate FA from a subset of samples. Analysis of the FA indicates that the FI values for the humic substances are slightly higher, yet well correlated with whole water samples. This suggests that despite prolonged storage in plastic, the FI trends are meaningful. The FI trends suggest a terrestrial source for the increasing DOC and may be driven by increased DOM production from soils experiencing decreased acid loading. Decreases in sulfate deposition can increase soil pH and soil organic matter solubility, as well as decrease the ionic strength of the soil solution, and increase DOC flux.

Purpose/Objective:

In response to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, sulfur deposition has decreased across the northeastern United States.

URLs/Downloads:

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Start Date: 12/17/2010
Completion Date: 12/17/2010
Record Last Revised: 12/14/2012
Record Created: 09/29/2010
Record Released: 09/29/2010
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 230280

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION

FRESHWATER ECOLOGY BRANCH