The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Air Resource Management, conducted a study to evaluate long-term trends in lake-water chemistry for 64 high-elevation lakes in selected Class I wilderness areas in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming during 1993 to 2009. Understanding how and why lake chemistry is changing in mountain areas is essential for effectively managing and protecting high-elevation aquatic ecosystems. Trends in emissions, atmospheric deposition, and climate variables (air temperature and precipitation amount) were evaluated over a similar period of record. A main objective of the study was to determine if changes in atmospheric deposition of contaminants in the Rocky Mountain region have resulted in measurable changes in the chemistry of high-elevation lakes. A second objective was to investigate linkages between lake chemistry and air temperature and precipitation to improve understanding of the sensitivity of mountain lakes to climate variability.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Response of lake chemistry to atmospheric deposition and climate in selected Class I wilderness areas in the western United States, 1993-2009