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Acid Rain Makes Thirsty Forests

Acid Rain Makes Thirsty Forests

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 09 August 2019



Acid Rain Makes Thirsty Forests

Previously unknown mechanism causes increased forest water use, new study says,
Indiana University, July 31, 2019.


New Approach
"The impacts of soil biogeochemistry on large-scale forest water use had not been investigated."

Acid Rain Consequences
"Sulfuric and nitric acid fall to the ground when fossil fuels are burned, causing acidification of the soil. When that happens, a significant amount of soil calcium washes out of the soil, and then plants suffer from calcium deficiency."

Plant Biochemistry
"Calcium plays a unique role in plant cells by regulating the minute pores, called stomata, in the plants' leaves or stems."

"If plants don't have enough calcium, they can't close those pores, and their water use increases. Also, when plants suffer from calcium deficiency, they will pump up more water through transpiration, the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from leaves, to meet their calcium demand."

Significant Water Use Change
"We present evidence from a long-term whole watershed acidification experiment demonstrating that the alteration of the soil calcium supply by acid deposition can significantly intensify water use."

Sound Familiar?
"...means that these plants are very sensitive to drought. If a drought comes, and they can't close their stomata, they are subject to high levels of mortality due to water stress."

"...multiple lines of evidence showing that calcium leaching induced by acid deposition not only increased vegetation water use but markedly decreased the soil water pool on the treated watershed."



Related Forest Research

2019 Tree Mortality Report: Forest Succession Underway, Continuing
Forest Service Finds 18 Million Trees Died in California in 2018


Northwestern Forest Succession Happening Under Changing Climate


Can our forests survive the next drought?


LAST 35 YEARS: As 41% of Snow Disappeared, the Sierras and Rockies Are Shrinking


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biochemical, forest research, acid rain, calcium, increased, water use


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