The threat of acidification of waterways in the north americas aquatic ecosystem

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The threat of acidification of waterways in the north americas aquatic ecosystem

Acid rain has effected plant and animal life within aquatic ecosystems, as well as microbiologic activity by affecting the rates of decomposition and the accumulation of organic matter.

To answer these questions, we must first examine the cause and formation of acid rain, as well as understand ways to decrease or prevent its formation. Formation of acid rain. Acid deposition, more commonly known as acid rain, occurs when emissions of sulfur dioxide SO2 and nitrogen oxides NOx react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form acidic compounds.

This mixture forms a mild solution of sulfuric and nitric acid which then falls to the earth in either wet rain, snow, sleet or fog or dry gas and particles form.

When acid rain falls, the dry deposited gases and particles are sometimes washed from buildings, trees and other surfaces making the runoff water combine with the acid rain more acidic than the falling acid rain alone. This new combination is referred to as acid deposition. The runoff water is then transported by strong prevailing winds and public sewer systems into lakes and streams.

When does rain become acidic? Scientists determine whether rain or lake water is acidic by measuring its pH the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 to A value of 7 is considered neutral, whereas values less than 7 are acidic and values over 7 are alkaline or basic.

A change of one unit on the pH scale represents a factor of ten in acidity; for example, a solution with a pH of five is ten times as acid as one with a pH of six Somerville,p. Normal or clean rainfall—without pollutants—is slighty acidic due to carbon dioxide, a natural gas in the air that dissolves in water to form weak carbonic acid.

Rainfall in eastern North America is often acidic with a pH of 4 to 5. Why is North America greatly at risk? Acid rain is more common in the Eastern U. Some areas in the U. Canada shows an even greater threat with half of its acid deposition caused by a large amount of metal smelting industries in Ontario and the other half attributed to pollution from combustion in U.

Most lakes have a pH between 6 and 8; however, some are naturally acidic even without the effects of acid rain. Lakes and streams become acidic pH value goes down when the water itself and its surrounding soil cannot buffer, or shield, the acid rain enough to balance its pH level.

In areas such as the northeastern United States and parts of Canada where soil buffering is poor, many lakes now have a pH value of less than 5. How does Acid Rain effect Aquatic Ecosystems?

As lakes and streams become more acidic, the amount of fish, aquatic plants and animals that live in these waters decrease. Although some plants and animals can survive acidic waters, others are acid-sensitive and will die as the pH declines.

Plants and animals living within an ecosystem are highly interdependent. If acid rain causes the loss of acid-sensitive plants and animals, organisms at all trophic levels within the food chain may be affected which then causes a disruption to the entire ecosystem.

Fish population have disappeared and loons and otters have moved to other lakes where they can find food Simonin,p4. In Canada, over 14, lakes have been acidified to the point where they have lost significant amounts of fish.

The threat of acidification of waterways in the north americas aquatic ecosystem

The chart below shows that not all fish, shellfish or their foot insects can tolerate the same amount of acid. The shaded bars represent the highest degree of pH balance that animal can tolerate within an acidic lake before it becomes extinct from that lake.

For example, frogs seem to be the toughest survivor by being able to tolerate a pH up to 4. United States Environmental Protection Agency; www. These pH shocks usually occur in early spring when melting snow releases acidic elements accumulated during the winter into a lake or stream causing a rapid decrease in pH level, which in turn causes fish to die.Acidification is a broad term that refers to the process by which aquatic ecosystems become more acidic.

The threat of acidification of waterways in the north americas aquatic ecosystem

Acid rain and acid mine drainage are major sources of acidifying compounds, lowering the pH below the range where most living organisms function. Water Pollution and Drinking Water Quality - All around the world, countries are fighting to keep their drinking water clean.

Whether it’s streams, rivers, or lakes, countries have taken great measures to maintain high quality drinking water for both human consumption and animal consumption.

U N E P E M E R G I N G I S S U E S ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF OCEAN ACIDIFICATION: A THREAT TO FOOD SECURITY For more information contact. AbstractAcidification of surface water is a persistent threat to aquatic ecosystems throughout the world. Several international policies have led to successful reductions of emissions of acidifying gases, but recovery of surface-water quality has been modest.

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Impacts and Carrying Capacity Most calcifying organisms live in such waters.
Download-Theses Ocean acidification has the potential to disturb marine ecosystems through a variety of pathways. Differential sensitivities will result in ecological winners and losers, as well as temporal and spatial shifts in interactions between species e.
Sustainability, Resource Depletion Acidification What is acidification? Acidification is a broad term that refers to the process by which aquatic ecosystems become more acidic.

Persistent effects of acidification on stream ecosystem structure and function. In the past century, one of the greatest threats to North America’s aquatic ecosystem has been the widespread acidification of hundreds of thousands of waterways.

Future biological and ecosystem impacts of ocean acidification and their socioeconomic-policy implications. is relevant to all these intergovernmental bodies and they each offer opportunities to inform policy-makers of this threat to the largest ecosystem on the planet.

environmental consequences of ocean acidification: a threat to food.

Effects of Ocean and Coastal Acidification on Ecosystems | Ocean and Coastal Acidification | US EPA