TEAM - Trends in Eutrophication and Acidification in the Maritimes
Plain Language Summary of Research Program
The two major water-quality issues facing the Maritime region of
Canada are acidification and eutrophication. Due to the lack of
long-term data sets, it is impossible to measure directly the extent of
degradation (or possible recovery) in water quality. Fortunately,
new approaches are available to reconstruct these missing data.
This 5-year, multi-disciplinary, program combined novel paleolimnological
(using information archived in lake sediments to reconstruct environmental
conditions) and biogeochemical modeling approaches to address key issues
related to water-quality changes in Nova Scotia and Southern New Brunswick.
Long-term goals were to develop pattern- and process-based models on regional
scales to help address the diversity of water-quality issues facing eastern
Canada. These techniques will be widely applicable to other regions.
To achieve these objectives, a series of strategic projects was undertaken
to address key processes related to acidification and eutrophication, and
their interactions with other environmental stressors (e.g. climate change).
Consequently, short-term goals apply new approaches to provide
detailed information on the trajectories of changes in water quality that
have occurred in specific lakes of interest to our users. This
allowed us to determine if individual lakes are deteriorating or improving
in water quality, and to determine what levels of stressors or pollutants
result in detrimental water-quality changes (e.g. what are the critical
loads for each lake? At what level of sulphate deposition do we see the
first signs of acidification or at what level of watershed development does eutrophication become a problem? Are hypolimnetic oxygen levels in NS brook
trout lakes decreasing? If so, what are the causes?). Moreover, by
reconstructing pre-impact, background conditions, we will establish realistic
mitigation targets (i.e. are these lakes naturally acidic or naturally
eutrophic or do they naturally suffer from deepwater oxygen depletions?).
These data also provide insights into biogeochemical processes and
models so that more realistic assessments of environmental change will be