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The effects of acid rain on soil PH Report (Assessment)


Identification of the effects of Acid rain

  • Acid rain chemically alters the structure and composition of soil (38).
  • Depletion of base metals significantly modifies soil processes and impedes the ability of sensitive soils to recover from the losses caused due to acid rain (38).
  • The soil loses its ability to neutralize strong acids within the soil and extends the time required for the ecosystem to recover from acidic deposition (p34). Acid rain or acid precipitation leads to a phenomenon where dormant toxic elements presented in soil are activated and mobilized. Examples include toxic metals such as lead and copper, which interrupt normal soil PH levels. Acid rain promotes the mobilization of toxins such as ‘Aluminum’ which is an extremely dangerous substance and has the ability to destroy the quality of soil by disturbing its PH levels substantially (p34).

Bringing it all together

  • Acid rain causes suplhur and nitrogen to accumulate in the soil, resulting in a process called leaching, which further leads to massive effects on soil PH. (39).
  • Excessive acid rain also causes the loss of large amounts of calcium and magnesium from the soil.
  • When leaching occurs, soil PH is kicked out of balance as it may react with the acid rain to become either extremely acidic or neutralized (41).

Acid rain, also termed as acidic atmospheric deposition is the “transfer of strong acids and acid forming substances form the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface” (Driscoll, Fallon & Chen, 2007, p.27).

In the article “Acidic Deposition: Sources and Ecological Effects”, Driscoll et al. (2007) elucidate how acid deposition transports acidic compounds to the soil, causing loss of soil nutrients thereby affecting soil quality and ph.

The information in the article relates to my research question: ‘How does acid rain affect soil PH?’

For my assignment, I will use the third chapter of the book: ‘Acidic deposition: Sources and Ecological Effects’ by Driscoll et al.

The article “Acidic Deposition: Sources and Ecological Effects” Driscoll et al. (2007) is published in several important books including the ‘Encyclopaedia of Hydrological Sciences’, edited by Malcolm Anderson (2007). The article contains detailed research findings and analyses and explores many aspects of the acid rain issue in detail.

The article by Driscoll et al. (2007) is of interest to a diverse audience including researchers, students, policy analysts, aspiring and current environmentalists, biologists and scientists, which makes this the ideal article for my research.

The authors have several other publications, independent and collaborative, relating to acid rain. Charles T. Driscoll has a Ph.D. in environmental Engineering from Cornell University and has received numerous awards and honours.

Driscoll et al. orient the reader to the problem of how acid deposition or acid rain transfers harmful compounds such as sulphuric acid, nitric acid and ammonium to the soil, causing it to acidify, resulting in several ecological changes (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.27).

These acidifying compounds of are then transported through soil, accelerating the loss of available nutrients and increasing the concentration of dissolved inorganic aluminum in soil waters. The ph level of the soil is disturbed due to the loss of base cations or essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.41).

Acid rain increases the accumulation of sulfur and nitrogen in the soil, disturbing its PH balance and ability to recover from acid deposition leading to overall diminished soil quality.

Soils which are heavily affected by acidic deposition to acid rain lose their ability to neutralize greater amounts of acidic deposition and become poor in quality due to an imbalance in the ph levels (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.34).

Elevated acidic deposition or acid rain chemically alters the structure and composition of soil resulting in several serious consequences. The acidification from acid rain drastically alters the soil PH to either very acidic or to very low soil PH.

The change in composition of soil occurs due to the leaching of essential soil nutrients, sulphate and nitrate in drainage waters (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.38). Excessive acid rain also causes the loss of large amounts of calcium and magnesium from the soil.

When the rate loss of these essential soil nutrients is higher than the replenishment rate, the process is called depletion. The soil loses its richness due to depletion of these important nutrients; calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Depletion of these base metals significantly modifies soil processes and impedes the ability of sensitive soils to recover from the losses caused due to acid rain (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.38). The soil loses its ability to neutralize strong acids within the soil and extends the time required for the ecosystem to recover from acidic deposition (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.34).

Acid rain or acid precipitation leads to a phenomenon where dormant toxic elements presented in soil are activated and mobilized. Examples include toxic metals such as lead and copper, which interrupt normal soil PH levels.

Acid rain promotes the mobilization of toxins such as ‘aluminum’ which is an extremely dangerous substance and has the ability to destroy the quality of soil by disturbing its PH levels substantially (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.34).

Acid rain causes sulfur and nitrogen to accumulate in the soil, resulting in a process called leaching, which further leads to massive effects on soil PH. (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.39).

Leaching is characterized by excessive draining of the soil’s crucial nutrients such as calcium and magnesium due to acidification (Driscoll et al., 2007, p.41). When leaching occurs, soil PH is kicked out of balance as it may react with the acid rain to become either extremely acidic or neutralized.

Since acid rain or acidic deposition is a fundamental topic in environment, I will use chapter 3, ‘Acidic Deposition: Sources and Ecological Effects’ by Driscoll et al., (2007), to explain it in my report. The phenomenon of Acid rain and acidic deposition, however, involves other aspects, necessitating the need for more information.

I think I will find additional information in the other chapters of the same book, ‘Acid in the Environment-Lessons Learned and Future Prospects’ edited by Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw (2007). There are several aspects of acid rain discussed in this book, which makes it a complete guide for the topic of acid rain.

References

Driscoll, C, Fallon, K & Chen, L 2007, Acidic deposition: Sources and ecological effect, Springer US, California.

Visgilio, GR & Whitelaw, DM 2007, Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects. New York: Springer.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The effects of acid rain on soil PH." April 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-effects-of-acid-rain-on-soil-ph-assessment/.

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