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Effects of Water Bodies:

Acid Rain

Small image of the forming of acid deposition

Click to see large image

Acid rain comes in many forms: rain, snow, sleet, hail and fog (wet deposition), and as deposits of acid particles, aerosols and gases (dry deposition). It is formed when sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine with moisture in the atmosphere to produce sulfuric acid and nitric acid.

Causes of Acid Rain

Several sources that contribute to creating acid rain include:

  • Combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, wood, etc.) for energy.
  • Emissions from motor vehicles, airplanes, power plants and industries.
  • Emissions of SO2 and NOx from the Midwest.

Effects of Acid Rain on the Environment

Aquatic – Freshwater macroinvertebrates, plants, and fish populations are damaged when acidic water disrupts their reproductive cycle. Aluminum leaches from the soil into the water, altering the chemistry and clogging the fish’s gills. As water bodies become acidified, one species after another disappears. In addition to sensitive lakes, the Adirondack region includes thousands of miles of streams and rivers that are also sensitive to acidic deposition.

A brook trout swimming
A loon with a hatchling riding on its back

Wildlife – Acid rain lowers the biological productivity of lakes and reduces the amount of forage fish available to loons. Toxicity from mercury pollution of water bodies can lead to decreased reproductive success of loons as well.