Predicting Reversibility of Acidification: The European Sulfur Story

Author: Alewell, C.

Source: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, Volume 130, Numbers 1-4, August 2001 , pp. 1271-1276(6)

Publisher: Springer

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Because of the deleterious effects of acid rain and the need to predict reversibility of acidification, various scientific tools such as modeling, stable isotopes and flux/budget calculations have been used in biogeochemical sulfur (S) research. The aim of this study was to evaluate consistencies and discrepancies between these different tools. While modeling has been seemingly successful in predicting S dynamics in soil solution and stream water by considering inorganic sulfate sorption and desorption only, stable S isotopes indicate that biological S turnover plays a crucial role for the sulfate released to soil solution and stream water. A comparison of budget calculations with soil S pools reveals that inorganic sulfate sorption and desorption are the controlling processes as long as deposition is high (> 15 kg S ha^−1yr^−1) and soils have a high sulfate sorption capacity. This explains the successful model predictions of the last two decades. However, for soils with low sulfate sorption capacity and under low sulfate deposition, organic S seems to be a significant source for stream water sulfate and has to be considered in future modeling.

Keywords: forest ecosystems; modeling; reversibility of acidification; stable S isotopes

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Dept. of Soil Ecology, BIT├ľK, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany e-mail:

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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