Regional trends in soil acidification and exchangeable metal concentrations in relation to acid deposition rates

Stevens, Carly J.; Dise, Nancy B. and Gowing, David J. (2009). Regional trends in soil acidification and exchangeable metal concentrations in relation to acid deposition rates. Environmental Pollution, 157(1) pp. 313–319.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2008.06.033

Abstract

The deposition of high levels of reactive nitrogen (N) and sulphur (S), or the legacy of that deposition, remain among the world's most important environmental problems. Although regional impacts of acid deposition in aquatic ecosystems have been well documented, quantitative evidence of wide-scale impacts on terrestrial ecosystems is not common. In this study we analysed surface and subsoil chemistry of 68 acid grassland sites across the UK along a gradient of acid deposition, and statistically related the concentrations of exchangeable soil metals (1 M KCl extraction) to a range of potential drivers. The deposition of N, S or acid deposition was the primary correlate for 8 of 13 exchangeable metals measured in the topsoil and 5 of 14 exchangeable metals in the subsoil. In particular, exchangeable aluminium and lead both show increased levels above a soil pH threshold of about 4.5, strongly related to the deposition flux of acid compounds

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