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Acid precipitation and its influence upon aquatic ecosystems--an overviewAuthor(s): Eville Gorham
Source: In: Dochinger, L. S.; Seliga, T. A., eds. Proceedings of the first international symposium on acid precipitation and the forest ecosystem; Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-23. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 425-458
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Northeastern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (1.26 MB)
DescriptionThe impact of acid precipitation reflects a usually deleterious balance between good and bad effects which may lead to serious and sometimes extreme degradation of aquatic as well as terrestrial ecosystems, particularly around metal smelters. Addition of hydrogen ions as sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acid can alter and impoverish the species composition of biotic communities, and lead to severe leaching of beneficial metal cations such as calcium from ecosystems. Heavy metals and other trace elements which accompany acid precipitation may reach toxic levels, particularly where acid fallout leaches additional amounts from the soil into streams and lakes. Complex and often toxic hydrocarbons also comprise a little known organic component of acid precipitation. Alternatively, acid precipitation usually is enriched in plant nutrients such as nitrate-and ammonia-nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and sulfur; and at certain concentrations some of the associated trace elements may also be beneficial. Moreover the initial effect of soil leaching by acid fallout may be to enrich aquatic ecosystems in metal cations such as calcium. Basic materials in air pollution, biogenic ammonia from the soil, dust fall from arid regions, and soils rich in adsorbed metal cations or in carbonates may neutralize some of the harmful effects of acid precipitation upon ecosystems. However, associated heavy metals, other trace elements, and toxic hydrocarbons may still constitute serious problems in many environments.
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CitationGorham, Eville. 1976. Acid precipitation and its influence upon aquatic ecosystems--an overview. In: Dochinger, L. S.; Seliga, T. A., eds. Proceedings of the first international symposium on acid precipitation and the forest ecosystem; Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-23. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 425-458
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