Natural and Anthropogenic Causes of Lake Acidification in Nova-Scotia

Eville Gorham, John K. Underwood, Frank B. Martin, J. Gordon Ogden

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Controversy has arisen over the recent acidification of lakes, ascribed by many to anthropogenic acid deposition from the atmosphere, and by some to natural processes of soil acidification enhanced by the regrowth of forests after cutting and burning. Here we show, by analysing the chemistry of Nova Scotian lakes and ponds on base-poor terrains, that both anthropogenic and natural acidification can be important. We calculated correlations and regressions between hydrogen ion (H+) concentrations and each of four predictors: dissolved organic carbon (DOC) (a surrogate for complex coloured organic acids, often of high molecular weight), non-marine sulphate (denoted by the prefixed asterisk as SO4 2-; a surrogate for acid deposition), non-marine calcium (Ca2+; the major basic cation from soil weathering and ion exchange), and the sum of the other non-marine base cations sodium, magnesium and potassium (Na+ + Mg2+ + K+). The results indicate that acidity in these waters is affected both by organic acids from peatland catchments and by acid deposition from long-range and local sources.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)451-453
Number of pages3
Issue number6096
StatePublished - 1986


  • Atmospheric chemical inputs, including acid rain, to oligotrophic ecosystems, especially bogs & lakes
  • Chemistry of lake waters/sediments and wetland waters/peats in relation to controlling environmental factors

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