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Ambio. 2008 Jun;37(4):295-303.

Soil sensitivity to acidification in Asia: status and prospects.

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Stockholm Environment Institute, Department of Biology, University of York, UK.


Exceedance of steady-state critical loads for soil acidification is consistently found in southern China and parts of SE Asia, but there is no evidence of impacts outside of China. This study describes a methodology for calculating the time to effects for soils sensitive to acidic deposition in Asia under potential future sulfur (S), nitrogen (N), and calcium (Ca) emission scenarios. The calculations are matched to data availability in Asia to produce regional-scale maps that provide estimates of the time (y) it will take for soil base saturation to reach a critical limit of 20% in response to acidic inputs. The results show that sensitive soil types in areas of South, Southeast, and East Asia, including parts of southern China, Burma, Hainan, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Western Ghats of India, may acidify to a significant degree on a 0-50 y timescale, depending on individual site management and abiotic and biotic characteristics. To make a clearer assessment of risk, site-specific data are required for soil chemistry and deposition (especially base cation deposition); S and N retention in soils and ecosystems; and biomass harvesting and weathering rates from sites across Asia representative of different soil and vegetation types and management regimes. National and regional assessments of soils using the simple methods described in this paper can provide an appreciation of the time dimension of soil acidification-related impacts and should be useful in planning further studies and, possibly, implementing measures to reduce risks of acidification.

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