Decreasing trends in acidic deposition levels over the past several decades have led to partial chemical recovery of surface waters. However, depletion of soil Ca from acidic deposition has slowed surface water recovery and led to the impairment of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Nevertheless, documentation of acidic deposition effects on soils has been limited, and little is known regarding soil responses to ongoing acidic deposition decreases. In this study, resampling of soils in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. was done at 27 sites exposed to reductions in wet SO42− deposition of 5.7−76%, over intervals of 8−24 y. Decreases of exchangeable Al in the O horizon and increases in pH in the O and B horizons were seen at most sites. Among all sites, reductions in SO42− deposition were positively correlated with ratios (final sampling/initial sampling) of base saturation (P < 0.01) and negatively correlated with exchangeable Al ratios (P < 0.05) in the O horizon. However, base saturation in the B horizon decreased at one-third of the sites, with no increases. These results are unique in showing that the effects of acidic deposition on North American soils have begun to reverse.
Lawrence, Gregory B.; Hazlett, Paul W.; Fernandez, Ivan J.; Ouimet, Rock; Bailey, Scott W.; Shortle, Walter C.; Smith, Kevin T.; Antidormi, Michael R. 2015. Declining acidic deposition begins reversal of forest-soil acidification in the northeastern US and eastern Canada. Environmental Science & Technology. 49(22): 13103-13111.