Carlsbad Caverns National Park AQRV's
Most surface waters in Carlsbad Caverns NP are likely to be well-buffered and, as a result, insensitive to acidic atmospheric deposition because of an abundance of base cations in underlying park soils and rocks. However, studies currently underway have identified certain soils in the park that appear to be very sensitive to acidification; small potholes or other waterbodies on these soils may also be vulnerable to acidification. Small potholes may also be sensitive to nutrient enrichment from nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen enrichment may result in algae blooms and oxygen depletion, but no studies have been done to study these potential effects in the park.
While there have been no systematic studies, there is currently no information indicating that wildlife in Carlsbad Caverns NP are being affected by air pollutants.
Dark night skies are considered an important air quality related value at Carlsbad Caverns NP, possessing value as a cultural, scenic, natural, and scientific resource. Air pollution and poor quality outdoor lighting degrade night skies, lessening a viewer's ability to see stars and other astronomical objects, and altering the nocturnal scene. Use of high quality lighting that produces very little scattered light can greatly improve the night sky. Reduction of haze from air pollution can also improve the night sky.
Soils in Carlsbad Caverns NP may be sensitive to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen compounds. In some areas of the country, elevated nitrogen deposition has been shown to alter soil nutrient cycling. Studies are underway in Big Bend NP in Texas to investigate nitrogen effects on soil dynamics, activities and biodiversity of the soil bacteria and fungi, and plant diversity. Results from these studies may be applicable to Carlsbad Caverns NP.
Several plant species that occur in Carlsbad Caverns NP, including Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine) and Rhus trilobata (skunkbush), are known to be sensitive to atmospheric ozone. Surveys have not been done in the park to evaluate ozone injury.
- Ozone Sensitive Plant Species Listed by Park
- Ozone Sensitive Plant Species on NPS and U.S. FWS Lands
- Ozone Bioindicators on NPS and U.S. FWS Lands
Visibility measurements at nearby Guadalupe Mountains NP are used to characterize visibility in Carlsbad Caverns NP. As part of the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network, visual air quality in Guadalupe Mountains NP has been monitored using an aerosol sampler (1988-present), a transmissometer (1988-present), and an automatic 35mm camera (1983-1995). Visual air quality in Guadalupe Mountains NP has been monitored using an aerosol sampler (1988-present), a transmissometer (1988-present), and an automatic 35mm camera (1983-1995).