DATABASE: Acid Rain Collection

Science  15 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5635, pp. 899
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5635.899c

Although laws such as the 1990 Clean Air Act have reduced air pollution, acid rain remains a threat to lakes and forests in the United States and Canada. Packed with data and reports, this site sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey can answer your burning questions about acid rain, which is caused mainly by sulfur-and nitrogen-containing emissions from vehicles and plants that burn fossil fuels.

A linked database allows researchers to download weekly, monthly, and yearly figures for precipitation chemistry from 250 monitoring stations around the U.S. Some stations' records stretch back as far as 1978. The site also offers a slew of reports and conference proceedings, and it links to maps that illustrate trends in precipitation pH. On this map of 2001 acidity measurements, for instance, brown and orange indicate precipitation with the lowest pH. The damaging rain and snow that falls in the Northeast is partly the result of emissions from coal-fired plants, cars, and heavy industry in the region, but pollution that blows in from the Midwest also contributes.

Navigate This Article