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

Predicting regional recovery from acidification; the MAGIC model applied to Scotland, England and Wales

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

Abstract. A dynamic, process-based model of surface water acidification, MAGIC, has been applied to over a thousand sites across the UK. The model is calibrated to surface water samples collected during a survey for the Critical Loads programme, and utilises the best available and consistent estimates of soil physical and chemical properties, rainfall and runoff volumes, and deposition chemistry. A total of 698 sites were calibrated successfully. At these sites, surface water chemistry was reconstructed from 1850 to the present day, and forecast to 2050 based on future decreases in sulphur (S) deposition in response to the Second S Protocol.
Model outputs capture distinct regional patterns of acidification and recovery. the most acidic present-day conditions are found in acid-sensitive regions of Northern England (the Pennines, Lake District and North York Moors). Although a significant proportion of sites in these areas failed to calibrate, those that did are predicted to have experienced severe historic decreases in acidic neutralising capacity (ANC) in response to high levels of acidic deposition. The model also indicates significant acidification in the moderate deposition areas of Wales and Galloway, whereas in the low deposition region of northern Scotland, acidification has been minor even in areas of acid-sensitive geology. ANC is forecast to recover at virtually all sites, with the greatest recovery predicted for areas currently subject to high deposition. The model indicates that the Second S Protocol, however, will not be sufficient to produce full recovery, with average ANC increases to 2050 counteracting just 27% of the simulated decline from 1850 to present day. Acidic conditions (ANC < 0) are predicted to persist until 2050 at a significant number of sites in Northern England, Wales and Galloway.

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