Critical Loads Services:

Critical Loads Research and Services

E&S scientists are at the forefront of national efforts to quantify the critical load (CL) of pollutants to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems across the United States. The CL identifies the level of pollutant input that is likely to cause ecological harm to sensitive ecosystem elements. The CL is quantified using a variety of modeling and assessment tools. E&S has developed and applied approaches for regional and site-specific CL calculations throughout the United States for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

We provide services in all aspects of CL research and its interface with public policy and natural resource management. This work results in the preparation and publication of scientific journal articles, technical reports, outreach summaries, and material for websites. The following types of services are provided:

  • Steady-state aquatic and terrestrial CLs to protect against acidification
  • Dynamic aquatic and terrestrial CLs or target loads (TLs) to protect against acidification
  • Dynamic terrestrial CLs to protect against eutrophication and to conserve plant biodiversity
  • Quantification of critical criteria values for CL indicators
  • Calculation of CL exceedance
  • Extrapolation of CL, TL, and exceedance from site-specific estimates to the broader landscape
  • Highlighted below are some of our projects related to critical loads: