Acid deposition and watershed characteristics in relation to lake chemistry in northeastern Minnesota

George Rapp, James D Allert, Barbara W. Liukkonen, Judith A. Ilse, Orie L. Loucks, Gary E. Glass

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24 Scopus citations


The relationship between lake sensitivity to atmospheric acidic inputs and the neutralization capacity of watersheds is examined for 267 lakes in northeastern Minnesota. Three water chemistry/sensitivity measures (color, sulfate, and alkalinity) are correlated with variables representative of precipitation and sulfate inputs, hydrology, and the acid neutralization capacity of various watershed components. An ordinal scale for ranking bedrock and surficial deposit neutralization capacity is presented. The watershed variables found to account for the largest percentages of the variability in measured color, sulfate, and alkalinity levels are determined. Color is strongly related to the presence of peat or marsh and hydrologic renewal time, whereas sulfate is primarily related to atmospheric deposition, evaporative concentration, bedrock type, and the presence of coniferous forest. Variation in alkalinity is the most difficult of the water chemistry measures to explain; for headwater lakes, atmospheric sulfate input, water renewal time, the presence of deciduous forest, and the weatherability of underlying bedrock determine much of its variability. The results illustrate important averaging properties of watersheds from small headwater systems to large drainages and the difficulty in obtaining correlations for some water quality measures (e.g., alkalinity) when some variables, such as soils and land cover, are available only as large-area averages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-440
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment international
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1985

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements-This research was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the U.S. EPA Environmental Research Laboratory--Duluth in cooperation with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, cooperative agreement CR 809412. Assistance with geohydrology was provided by Tom Winter (USGS), with soils information by Don Prettyman (USFS), and with statistical and data analysis by John Rogers and John Sorensen. Additional help in data gathering and processing was provided by Lee Anderson, Carolyn Boben, Gregg Deutseh, Jim Engstrom, Denise Erickson, Larry Heinis, Christopher Hill, Dave Jaeger, Greg Lein, Scott Maki, Lynn Riley, Joy Rogalla, and Jeff Swanson. Typing was by Avis Hedin. The authors also thank and acknowledge the helpful comments of three anonymous reviewers.


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