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Energy and Air & Water Pollution

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Acid rain, mercury, greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants associated with fuel combustion have substantial impacts on forest and aquatic ecosystems. We have worked with teams of scientists to synthesize current scientific knowledge related to these pollutants for several regions of the U.S.

Mercury Efforts

A recent mercury project from the Great Lakes region distilled findings from 35 recent peer-reviewed publications into a multi-author publication “Mercury Connections: the extent and effects of mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region.” Accompanying outreach activities included a media release with over 300 news stories, coordination with members of Congress around the reintroduction of federal legislation for a National Mercury Monitoring Network, and briefings for several entities include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This project was a joint effort with the Biodiversity Research Institute, the Great Lakes Commission, the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse and hundreds of participating scientists.  The Ecological Society of America and the Northeast-Midwest Institute collaborated on briefings for Congressional staffers.

Multi-pollutant Efforts

In 2011, Harvard Forest Science & Policy Integration Project Director, Kathy Fallon Lambert, partnered with the Ecological Society of America to co-author a new Issues in Ecology report, "Setting Limits: Using Air Pollution Thresholds to Protect and Restore U.S. Ecosystems." The report provides an overview of the ongoing impacts of atmospheric deposition of sulfur, nitrogen, and mercury in the U.S.  It presents a series of ecological thresholds for evaluating air pollution impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and it proposes science-based strategies for using deposition-based limits to reduce acid rain, nitrogen enrichment, and the accumulation of mercury in the environment.