From Maple Trees to Fish

From Maple Trees to Fish

Smokestack emissions from burning coal and oil cause acid rain. And since the 1960’s, scientists have been monitoring its effects. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Likens: Acid rain has had many effects in the environment. Initially, the effects were on aquatic ecosystems, rivers, and streams and lakes.

Gene Likens is founding director of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Working with colleagues in New Hampshire, Gene has been credited with discovering acid rain.

Likens: The lakes in the Adirondack Mountains in New York state are poorly buffered, meaning that they don’t buffer against acidity. So, like if you took a Tum or Rolaid when you had a sour stomach, they buffer the acidity in the stomach. Well, the materials in the bedrock of the Adirondacks is a poor buffer; it has little buffering capacity, neutralizing the acidity. We had to try to understand how the acidity coming out of the rain and snow could affect systems. So, in those poorly buffered rivers and streams and lakes, changes occurred. The lakes became more acidic. The fish populations declined and died. The population of smaller invertebrates that the fish fed upon declined and disappeared. So the lakes became very much affected by the acid rain.
The effects of acid rain are quite widespread over the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Some of the effects are evident in the decline of sugar maple. Sugar maple is a species of tree that requires a more alkaline soil in order to thrive and prosper. And as it has become less alkaline, the sugar maples are suffering in many areas and dying in many areas. And so this is one of the effects that is seen.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

From Maple Trees to Fish

Understanding how the acidity from rain and snow effects our environment.
Air Date:01/26/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

From Maple Trees to Fish

Smokestack emissions from burning coal and oil cause acid rain. And since the 1960's, scientists have been monitoring its effects. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Likens: Acid rain has had many effects in the environment. Initially, the effects were on aquatic ecosystems, rivers, and streams and lakes.

Gene Likens is founding director of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Working with colleagues in New Hampshire, Gene has been credited with discovering acid rain.

Likens: The lakes in the Adirondack Mountains in New York state are poorly buffered, meaning that they don't buffer against acidity. So, like if you took a Tum or Rolaid when you had a sour stomach, they buffer the acidity in the stomach. Well, the materials in the bedrock of the Adirondacks is a poor buffer; it has little buffering capacity, neutralizing the acidity. We had to try to understand how the acidity coming out of the rain and snow could affect systems. So, in those poorly buffered rivers and streams and lakes, changes occurred. The lakes became more acidic. The fish populations declined and died. The population of smaller invertebrates that the fish fed upon declined and disappeared. So the lakes became very much affected by the acid rain.
The effects of acid rain are quite widespread over the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Some of the effects are evident in the decline of sugar maple. Sugar maple is a species of tree that requires a more alkaline soil in order to thrive and prosper. And as it has become less alkaline, the sugar maples are suffering in many areas and dying in many areas. And so this is one of the effects that is seen.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.