Assessing the effect of broadleaf woodland expansion on acidic dry deposition and streamwater acidification

Z. Gagkas, K.V. Heal, M. Vieno, T.R. Nisbet, N. Stuart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The study aim was to determine whether enhanced dry deposition of acidic atmospheric pollutants by broadleaf woodland expansion could increase the potential for acidification of surface waters in acid-sensitive areas. Dry sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition was modelled with the Fine Resolution Atmospheric Multi-pollutant Exchange (FRAME) model using a roughness length value calculated specifically for birchwoods. Two scenarios were investigated for an acid-sensitive area in Scotland where broadleaf woodland expansion, mainly as birchwood, is occurring: (1) 2002 emissions and broadleaf woodland cover of 5.6%; (2) 2020 projected emissions and broadleaf cover of 29%. The roughness length calculated for birch with Raupach's simplified drag-partition model was 0.73m, lower than the value of 1.0m for conifers which is the default for forest land cover in FRAME. Modelled dry S and N deposition increased between 2002 and 2020 from 8.7 to 29×10keqhayear of H. However, modelled total dry and wet non-marine S and N deposition decreased during the same period from 1070 to 682×10keqhayear of H due to the lower projected emissions in 2020 and the dominance of wet deposition in the remote and upland study area (mean annual rainfall 2275mm). The modelled total non-marine S and N deposition was used to calculate streamwater critical loads exceedance with the First-order Acidity Balance (FAB) model for five catchments in the study area. The modelled deposition for both the 2002 and 2020 scenarios was less than the calculated streamwater critical loads so the catchments were not considered at risk of streamwater acidification under the projected future emissions and increased broadleaf woodland cover. Nevertheless, broadleaf expansion could pose a greater risk of acidification in acid-sensitive areas with lower rainfall, closer to pollutant sources, where dry deposition accounts for a higher proportion of total S and N deposition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1434-1442
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011


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