Research NewsEcology

Acid Rain's Dirty Business: Stealing Minerals From Soil

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Science  12 Apr 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5259, pp. 198
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5259.198

Summary

Even though the United States, Canada, and European countries have cut the sulfur pollution that leads to acid rain, forests, lakes, and streams haven't bounced back as quickly as expected. On page 244, a group of researchers reports confirming the reason: The acid has wrought profound changes in the soil. Three decades of data on rain and stream-water chemistry in a New Hampshire forest show that the acid has stripped away the soil's base mineral ions, which buffer, or neutralize, acids and are essential to plant growth. Given the rate at which these ions are still being depleted, it could be decades before the acid-ravaged ecosystems become healthy again.

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