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Air Pollution

Alpine environments are sensitive indicators of air pollution. By combining monitoring of high-elevation ecosystems and field experiments, NWT scientists have determined that current levels of nitrogen pollution associated with industry and agriculture are altering alpine plant diversity and are polluting lakes and streams, and may soon acidify soils.

Lieb, A.M., A. Darrouzet-Nardi, and W.D. Bowman. 2011. Nitrogen deposition decreases acid buffering capacity of alpine soils in the southern Rocky Mountains. Geoderma 164: 220-224.
Bowman, W.D., C.C. Cleveland, L. Halada, J. Hreško, and J.S. Baron. 2008. Negative impact of nitrogen deposition on soil buffering capacity. Nature Geoscience 1: 767-770
Bowman, W.D., J.L. Gartner, K. Holland, and M. Wiedermann. 2006. Nitrogen critical loads for alpine vegetation and terrestrial ecosystem response - Are we there yet? Ecological Applications 16: 1183-1193.
Niwot LTER researchers Isabel Ashton and John Murgel measure species composition in plots near Chapin Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, as part of a project comparing vegetation responses to N deposition in the park with NWT LTER. Results of this project are informing land managers involved with determining limits on emissions of reactive N in Colorado.
Bill Bowman, NWT LTER
Cover (a, symbols are means+s.e.m., n=5) and rate of change in cover (b, each plot represented by a triangle) forCarex rupestrisin an alpine dry meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park subjected to ambient deposition (control), and additions of 5, 10, and 30 kg N ha-1 yr-1. The extrapolation of the line to the x-axis in b provides an estimate of the threshold of N input at which significant increases in cover ofC. rupestrisoccurs due to N deposition. (from Bowman, WD, J. Murgel, T. Blett, and E. Porter.
In rev. Journal of Environmental Management) Nitrogen Critical Loads for Alpine Vegetation and Soils in Rocky Mountain National Park)



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