Chronic and episodic acidification of Adirondack streams from acid rain in 2003–2005
Limited information is available on streams in the Adirondack region of New York, although streams are more prone to acidification than the more studied Adirondack lakes. A stream assessment was therefore undertaken in the Oswegatchie and Black River drainages; an area of 4585 km2 in the western part of the Adirondack region. Acidification was evaluated with the newly developed base-cation surplus (BCS) and the conventional acid-neutralizing capacity by Gran titration (ANCG). During the survey when stream water was most acidic (March 2004), 105 of 188 streams (56%) were acidified based on the criterion of BCS < 0 µeq L–1, whereas 29% were acidified based on an ANCG value < 0 µeq L–1. During the survey when stream water was least acidic (August 2003), 15 of 129 streams (12%) were acidified based on the criterion of BCS < 0 µeq L–1, whereas 5% were acidified based on ANCG value < 0 µeq L–1. The contribution of acidic deposition to stream acidification was greater than that of strongly acidic organic acids in each of the surveys by factors ranging from approximately 2 to 5, but was greatest during spring snowmelt and least during elevated base flow in August. During snowmelt, the percentage attributable to acidic deposition was 81%, whereas during the October 2003 survey, when dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were highest, this percentage was 66%. The total length of stream reaches estimated to be prone to acidification was 718 km out of a total of 1237 km of stream reaches that were assessed.