Retrospective analysis of the response of soil and stream chemistry of a northern forest ecosystem to atmospheric emission controls from the 1970 and 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act

Solomon S. Gbondo-Tugbawa, Charles T. Driscoll

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7 Scopus citations


The 1970 and 1990 Amendments of the Clean Air Act (CAAA) have resulted in a decline in acidic deposition in the northeastern United States. Results from the application of a biogeochemical model (PnET-BGC) at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire suggest that, without the implementation of the CAAAs, soil base saturation and soil solution molar Ca/Al ratio would decrease to values below 6% and 1.0, respectively, while S would continue to accumulate in organic matter and adsorbed pools at rates of 2 and 3 kg of S ha-1 yr-1, respectively. This scenario of conditions without the CAAAs was projected to result in higher stream concentrations of SO42-, NO3-, and Ca2+; monomeric Al; pH below 4.8; and acid-neutralizing capacity (ANC) less than -15μequiv L-. The implementation of the CAAAs has led to a slight improvement in the soil base saturation, while recovery of soil solution Ca/Al cannot be fully assessed because of variability in observed values. Our evaluation of the relative benefits of the 1970 and 1990 CAAAs indicate that although the magnitude of the cumulative decrease in strong acid deposition was greater following the 1970 CAAA as compared to the 1990 CAAA, the extent of ecosystem recovery relative to the changes in acidic deposition suggests thatthe 1990 CAAA was also beneficial. The slow recovery rates might be the result of a legacy of chemical effects of acidic deposition for the last 150 years and suggests that additional controls in emissions might be required to show significant changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4714-4720
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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