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Terrestrial ecosystem sensitivity to acidic deposition in developing countries

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Publication details

JournalWater, Air, & Soil Pollution
DatePublished - Dec 1995
Issue number4
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)2319-2324
Original languageEnglish


Acidic deposition is considered a problem in Europe and North America but the potential for ecosystem damage from this pollution is also increasing rapidly in many developing countries. It is therefore important to assess current and future risks of ecosystem effects due to acidic deposition in these areas. It is possible to indicate risk areas by linking an assessment of sensitivity to net acidic input rates derived from deposition estimates for sulphur and nitrogen compounds and base cations. A method to assess and map a relative scale of terrestrial ecosystem sensitivity using international datasets is presented. The assessment relies on the determination of buffering mechanisms that prevent effects related to acidic deposition. Land-cover data, edaphic and climate datasets are combined using a GIS. Large areas are assessed as highly sensitive to acidic deposition in tropical regions of Asia, South and Central America and Africa, and also in the Boreal forests of northern Asia. Sensitive areas cover forest and non-forest ecosystems and some areas of agricultural production. Critical loads are not evaluated in this project but initial estimates will be applied to sensitivity classes at a further stage which will allow estimation of areas at risk by comparison with deposition.

    Research areas

  • sensitivity, buffering, acidification, vegetation effects, soil, Al toxicity, GIS, mapping, nutrient

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