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Mapping critical loads of nitrogen deposition for aquatic ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains, USA

Environmental Pollution

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Abstract

Spatially explicit estimates of critical loads of nitrogen (N) deposition (CLNdep) for nutrient enrichment in aquatic ecosystems were developed for the Rocky Mountains, USA, using a geostatistical approach. The lowest CLNdep estimates (<1.5 ± 1 kg N ha-1 yr-1) occurred in high-elevation basins with steep slopes, sparse vegetation, and abundance of exposed bedrock and talus. These areas often correspond with areas of high N deposition (>3 kg N ha-1 yr-1), resulting in CLNdep exceedances ≥1.5 ± 1 kg N ha-1 yr-1. CLNdep and CLNdep exceedances exhibit substantial spatial variability related to basin characteristics and are highly sensitive to the NO3- threshold at which ecological effects are thought to occur. Based on an NO3- threshold of 0.5 μmol L-1, N deposition exceeds CLNdep in 21 ± 8% of the study area; thus, broad areas of the Rocky Mountains may be impacted by excess N deposition, with greatest impacts at high elevations.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Mapping critical loads of nitrogen deposition for aquatic ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains, USA
Series title:
Environmental Pollution
Volume
166
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s):
Colorado Water Science Center
Description:
11 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Pollution
First page:
125
Last page:
135
Country:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Rocky Mountains