Atmospheric Acid Emissions, Climate Change, and Coastal Salmon Stream Ecosystems in British Columbia - Year Two

Atmospheric acid emissions are increasing in north coastal British Columbia from increased metallurgical smelting, marine fossil fuel transport, and development of liquefied natural gas. Acid deposition can cause episodic acidification of streams when acidic compounds are flushed into streams after snowmelt and precipitation events over hours to weeks. Many salmon-bearing coastal streams are likely sensitive to episodic acidification, but these events are poorly quantified in western Canada. Furthermore, drought and warming due to climate change can exacerbate episodic acidification of streams. Our study would determine the effects of acid emissions from Rio Tinto Alcan?s metallurgical smelting facilities on streams near Kitimat, BC. We would use remotely deployed water chemistry sensors to measure high-frequency variations in stream hydrology and chemistry. Statistical models would then be used to determine how acid emissions from multiple industrial sources may increase episodic acidification of streams and interact with the effects of climate change.

Paul Weidman
Faculty Supervisor: 
Jonathan Moore
Project Year: 
British Columbia