We ecologists take a lot of flack for always having depressing news to report. It's not often we get to say there is good news on the environmental front, but those of us concerned with air pollution have certainly had reasons to smile this summer.
Air pollutants such as sulfur, nitrogen, ozone and mercury have serious direct and indirect effects on organisms in our region. A synthesis of research findings, written by the Cary Institute and the Nature Conservancy, reports that no major ecosystem types in the Northeast are free of air pollution effects.
Building on earlier research, which focused on how landscape features affect atmospheric deposition, we have developed a new modeling approach for scaling point measurements of atmospheric deposition to whole landscapes in Acadia and Great Smoky National Parks.
Air pollutants are deposited not only in rain and snow, but also as gases, particles, and fog droplets. Measuring the deposition of all of these forms is difficult, especially in mountainous terrain, where deposition rates are strongly influenced by elevation and characteristics of the forest canopy. Knowing the rates and patterns of deposition is critical to evaluating ecosystem response to the pollutants