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Correlations between stream sulphate and regional SO2 emissions

Nature

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Abstract

The relationship between atmospheric SO2 emissions and stream and lake acidification has been difficult to quantify, largely because of the limitations of sulphur deposition measurements. Precipitation sulphate (SO4) records are mostly <5 yr in length and do not account for dry sulphur deposition. Moreover, a variable fraction of wet- and dry-deposited sulphur is retained in soils and vegetation and does not contribute to the acidity of aquatic systems. We have compared annual SO2 emissions for the eastern United States from 1976 to 1980 with stream SO4 measurements from fifteen predominantly undeveloped watersheds. We find that the two forms of sulphur are strongly correlated on a regional basis and that streams in the southeastern United States (SE) receive a smaller fraction (on average, 16%, compared with 24%) of regional sulphur emissions than do streams in the northeastern United States (NE). In addition to providing direct empirical evidence of a relationship between sulphur emissions and aquatic chemistry, these results suggest that there are significant regional differences in the fraction of deposited sulphur retained in basin soils and vegetation.The relationship between atmospheric SO//2 emissions and stream and lake acidification has been difficult to quantify, largely because of the limitations of sulphur deposition measurements. The authors have compared annual SO//2 emissions for the eastern United States from 1967 to 1980 with stream SO//4 measurements from fifteen predominantly undeveloped watersheds. They found that both the wet - and dry-deposited forms of sulphur are strongly correlated on a regional basis and that streams in the southeastern United States receive a smaller fraction (on average, 16%, compared with 24%) of regional sulphur emissions than do streams in the northeastern United States. In addition to providing direct empirical evidence of a relationship between sulphur emissions and aquatic chemistry, these results suggest that there are significant regional differences in the fraction of deposited sulphur retained in basin soils and vegetation.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Correlations between stream sulphate and regional SO2 emissions
Series title:
Nature
Volume
322
Issue:
6081
Year Published:
1986
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Nature
First page:
722
Last page:
724
Number of Pages:
3