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Reversal of forest soil acidification in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada: Site and soil factors contributing to recovery

August 18, 2020

As acidic deposition has decreased across Eastern North America, forest soils at some sites are beginning to show reversal of soil acidification. However, the degree of recovery appears to vary and is not fully explained by deposition declines alone. To assess if other site and soil factors can help to explain degree of recovery from acid deposition, soil resampling chemistry data (8- to 24-year time interval) from 23 sites in the United States and Canada, located across 25° longitude from Eastern Maine to Western Ontario, were explored. Site and soil factors included recovery years, sulfate (SO42−) deposition history, SO42− reduction rate, C horizon pH and exchangeable calcium (Ca), O and B horizon pH, base saturation, and exchangeable Ca and aluminum (Al) at the time of the initial sampling. We found that O and B horizons that were initially acidified to a greater degree showed greater recovery and B horizon recovery was further associated with an increase in recovery years and lower initial SO42− deposition. Forest soils that seemingly have low buffering capacity and a reduced potential for recovery have the resilience to recover from the effects of previous high levels of acidic deposition. This suggests, that predictions of where forest soils acidification reversal will occur across the landscape should be refined to acknowledge the importance of upper soil profile horizon chemistry rather than the more traditional approach using only parent material characteristics.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Reversal of forest soil acidification in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada: Site and soil factors contributing to recovery
DOI 10.3390/soilsystems4030054
Authors P.W. Hazlett, C.E. Emilson, Gregory B. Lawrence, I.J. Fernandez, R. Ouimet, S.W. Bailey
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Soil Systems
Series Number
Index ID 70212795
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center

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