I have a partnership with the park and Friends of Acadia to conduct research on Jordan Pond. This began five years ago and continues today.
The main question we are trying to address is, ‘Why is water clarity declining in Maine lakes?’ This started happening around the mid-1990s.
We think it is a response to reductions in air pollution. Acid rain had many detrimental effects on lake ecosystems; some of the chemical and biological changes driven by acid rain actually led to clearer lake waters. The recent decline in lake water clarity in some lakes is a positive sign of reduced air pollution, but may also be driven by increasing storm frequency and severity.
To assess this, we have installed a sensor buoy in Jordan Pond. The pond is ideal for this study because it is the clearest lake in Maine and also has shown the trend in declining water clarity.
Our results support that both reductions in air pollution and the effects of storms are important for controlling lake water clarity.
The partnership among the park, Friends of Acadia and UMaine allows us to share resources and knowledge across groups with different interests and expertise. Because of the park’s mission, there is a valuable long-term — three decades — data set on lake responses that allowed us to identify this issue of declining water clarity, which we see in lakes more broadly across Maine as well. The park ecosystems can thus serve as sentinels of broader change.
Water clarity if one of the most valued features of lakes. Our research is helping to identify why this feature is changing in Maine lakes.
Jasmine Saros is a professor of paleoecology in the Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology