Critical loads and H+ budgets of forest soils affected by air pollution from oil sands mining in Alberta, Canada

Kangho Jung, Scott X. Chang, Yong Sik Ok, M. A. Arshad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the critical load (CL) and exceedance (EX) of sulfur (S) deposition, temporal changes in soil chemistry, and H+ budget of soils in plots dominated by Pinus banksiana (jack pine) or Populus tremuloides (trembling aspen, aspen) in two acid-sensitive watersheds to assess the risk of soil acidification by S emissions from oil sands mining in the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR), Canada. The CLs and EXs were determined by two methods: one was based on bulk deposition and the other based on total deposition (as a sum of bulk deposition and interception deposition). The CLs ranged from 223 to 711 molc ha-1 yr-1 based on bulk deposition. Those values were similar to that obtained based on total deposition. However, EXs based on bulk deposition were significantly lower (p < 0.001) than those based on total deposition due to the relative increase of SO42- concentrations in interception deposition, indicating that EXs based on bulk deposition only could underestimate the risk of soil acidification in the AOSR. The S deposition did not exceed CLs in the long-term for both methods. The pH in the forest floor increased and available SO42- (as the sum of soluble and adsorbed SO42-) in the forest floor and surface mineral soils increased in both jack pine and aspen stands between 2005 and 2010. The H+ budget ranged from -289 to -130 molc ha-1 yr-1 in jack pine stands and from -510 to -371 molc ha-1 yr-1 in aspen stands. Our results suggest that 1) soils in the studied forest stands have recovered from acidification based on the increasing soil pH over time and the negative H+ budget, and 2) the risk of soil acidification should be assessed by CL and EX calculated based on total deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Volume69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr

Keywords

  • Athabasca oil sands
  • Critical load
  • H budget
  • Interception deposition
  • S deposition
  • Soil acidification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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