A 20-year record of water chemistry for seven headwater streams in the Rocky Mountain region of the western United States is compared to estimates of local and regional sulfur dioxide emissions for the same period. Emissions from smelters in the region comprise a significant part of sulfur dioxide emissions for the 11 states upwind of acid-sensitive watersheds in the Rocky Mountains, but smelter emissions have steadily decreased since 1970. Analysis of stream chemistry indicates conservative behavior of watershed sulfate, with atmospheric deposition as the dominant source of sulfate. No relation between regional stream chemistry and smelter or regional sulfur dioxide emissions is detected for the watersheds. Local emissions trends, however, do appear to affect sulfate concentrations in the streams. Year-to-year variability in stream sulfate concentration is much greater than any long-term trends that might be inferred.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Effects of sulfur dioxide emissions on stream chemistry in the western United States|
|Series title||Water Resources Research|
|Publisher||American Geophysical Union|