Articles | Volume 2, issue 4
Special issue:
31 Dec 1998
31 Dec 1998

A two-layer application of the MAGIC model to predict the effects of land use scenarios and reductions in deposition on acid sensitive soils in the UK

R. C. Helliwell, R. C. Ferrier, and A. Jenkins

Abstract. A two-layer application of the catchment-based soil and surface water acidification model, MAGIC, was applied to 21 sites in the UK Acid Waters Monitoring Network (AWAMN), and the results were compared with those from a one-layer application of the model. The two-layer model represented typical soil properties more accurately by segregating the organic and mineral horizons into two separate soil compartments. Reductions in sulphur (S) emissions associated with the Second S Protocol and different forestry (land use) scenarios were modelled, and their effects on soil acidification evaluated. Soil acidification was assessed in terms of base saturation and critical loads for the molar ratio of base cations (CA2+ + MG 2+ + K+) to aluminium (Al) in soil solution. The results of the two-layer application indicate that base saturation of the organic compartment was very responsive to changes in land use and deposition compared with the mineral soil. With the two- layer model, the organic soil compartment was particularly sensitive to acid deposition, which resulted in the critical load being predicted to be exceeded at eight sites in 1997 and two sites in 2010. These results indicate that further reductions in S deposition are necessary to raise the base cation (BC):Al ratio above the threshold which is harmful to tree roots. At forested sites BC:Al ratios were generally well below the threshold designated for soil critical loads in Europe and forecasts indicate that forest replanting can adversely affect the acid status of sensitive term objectives of protecting and sustaining soil and water quality. Policy formulation must seek to protect the most sensitive environmental receptor, in this case organic soils. It is clear, therefore, that simply securing protection of surface waters, via the critical loads approach, may not ensure adequate protection of low base status organic soils from the effects of acidification.

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