“This study has important implications that go well beyond the forests of the northeastern United States”
Calcium can do much more than strengthen bones. The mineral is a critical nutrient for healthy tree growth, and new research shows that adding it to the soil helps reverse the decades-long decline of forests ailing from the effects of acid rain.
The paper, published today (Thursday, Sept. 19), in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (EST) Letters, and led by John Battles, professor of forest ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, also presents strong evidence that acid rain impairs forest health.
The paper reports on 15 years of data from an ongoing field experiment in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire led by study co-author Charles Driscoll Jr., professor of environmental systems engineering at Syracuse University.
“It is generally accepted that acid rain harms trees, but the value of our study is that it proves the causal link between the chronic loss of soil calcium caused by decades of acid rain and its impact on tree growth,” said Battles. “The temporal and spatial scope of the study – 15 years and entire watersheds – is unique and makes the results convincing.”
The researchers reported that trees in the calcium-treated watershed produced 21 percent more wood and 11 percent more leaves than their counterparts in an adjacent control site. The iconic sugar maple – the source of maple syrup – was the tree species that responded most strongly to the restoration of calcium in the soil.
The research site, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, was targeted because of the declining growth rates and unexpected death of trees in the area. Previous measurements of the forest soil showed a 50 percent depletion of calcium.
Acid rain forms when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – gases produced from the burning of fossil fuels – react with water molecules in the air. The mountainous regions in the Northeast have thin soils that are already acidic, so they have limited ability to withstand the assaults of nutrient-dissolving acid rain. Moreover, watersheds along the eastern corridor of the United States had been exposed to more acid rain because of the greater number of coal-burning power plants in the region.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 significantly reduced sulfur dioxide emissions, but decades of acid rain already had changed the soil chemistry of many sensitive regions, including the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Adirondacks of New York.
For the Hubbard Brook study, a helicopter spread 40 tons of dry calcium pellets over a 29-acre watershed over several days in October 1999. The calcium was designed to slowly work its way into the watershed over many years.
“This was restoration, not fertilization,” said Battles. “We were only replacing what was lost.”
Researchers monitored the forest over the next 15 years, comparing the treatment area with an adjacent watershed that had the same characteristics, but did not get the added calcium.
The Latest Bing News on:
Acid rain-damaged forests
- LSU AgCenter: A comprehensive guide to herb gardening in Louisianaon September 20, 2022 at 6:32 am
The LSU AgCenter has compiled a comprehensive of everything you might want to know about growing herbs in Louisiana.
- Drew Monkman: Derecho stories of painful losson September 15, 2022 at 9:00 pm
Many people are still reeling from the impact of May’s derecho windstorm and the loss of beautiful old trees. In many areas such as Stoney Lake, the landscape has been radically changed. It’s little ...
- The Permian Extinction—When Life Nearly Came to an Endon September 15, 2022 at 8:53 am
Decades of acid rain generated by power-plant emissions ... Evidence for the scale of damage to the world's forests comes from the Italian Alps. I joined a research team led by Henk Visscher ...
- Person still missing, 30 homes destroyed or damaged by mudslides in Forest Falls, Oak Glenon September 14, 2022 at 3:32 pm
14, two days after a person was unaccounted for after mud and debris flowed through Forest Falls and Oak Glen following an intense thunderstorm. An estimated 30 homes were damaged or destroyed in ...
- Evacuations ordered in Oak Glen and Forest Falls as mudslides hit the areaon September 13, 2022 at 8:08 am
County fire crews as well as crews with Cal Fire San Bernardino were assessing the damage into the evening, according to Sherwin. FOREST FALLS: #SBCoFD on scene in the Forest Falls area with rain ...
- Climate change could impede forests' ability to pull carbon from the atmosphere because leaves struggle to carry out photosynthesis when it gets too hot, study warnson September 12, 2022 at 1:00 pm
This included the Panamanian rain forest and the high-elevation tree ... of carbon assimilation capacity and eventually heat damage.' Human activities like agriculture, livestock farming and ...
- Lake expert seeking Highlands support to improve environmenton September 7, 2022 at 1:56 pm
By Darren Lum Putting action to words is what Dr. Norman Yan of ASH Muskoka does and hopes he can inspire others to follow the model he has been leading a region over. Yan, who is a leading expert on ...
- USING COAL TO GENERATE POWER IN NIGERIAon August 29, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Decreasing SO2 and NOx emissions reduces acid rain, which in turn reduces acidification and eutrophication of lakes and damage to forests and other vegetation. It also reduces damage to structures ...
- Soil Ecology in Northern Forestson June 3, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Leuschner, Christoph Gebel, Stefanie and Rose, Laura 2013. Root trait responses of six temperate grassland species to intensive mowing and NPK fertilisation: a field study in a temperate grassland.
- The impact of adaptations and population growth on biodiversityon February 15, 2021 at 11:10 pm
The burning of fossil fuels leads to an increase in sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere, which causes acid rain. Acid rain has ... of vast areas of natural forest for the benefit of humans.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Acid rain-damaged forests
The Latest Bing News on:
Calcium and trees
- What does this 1,000-year-old Meghalaya cave have to say about India’s droughtson September 20, 2022 at 9:57 am
Around the 1870s, scientists started using tools to scientifically measure the monsoon rainfall in India. Since then, India has gone through around 27 widespread regional droughts. Only one of these, ...
- Avocados, the super food that also plays a role in maternal nutritionon September 20, 2022 at 9:00 am
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women of childbearing age should eat a nutrient-dense diet.
- From Subterranean Caverns to Dazzling Gardens, 8 Ways to Explore the Cayman Islandson September 20, 2022 at 8:35 am
But Grand Cayman and its sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, offer much more than sun and sand. With a wide range of exciting experiences, each of the islands is invitingly accessible, ...
- 1,000-Year-Old Stalagmites From A Cave In India Show The Monsoon Isn't So Reliable They Reveal A History Of Long, Deadly Droughtson September 19, 2022 at 1:21 pm
In a remote cave in northeast India, rainwater has slowly dripped from the ceiling in the same spots for over 1,000 years. With each drop, minera ...
- Beware! These indoor plants have side effectson September 15, 2022 at 4:59 am
Thanks to home decor marketing, several individuals are now obsessed with indoor potted plants. The idea is to create a lovely environment and take instaworthy pictures. But there's a tiny problem: ...
- Is Maple Syrup A Healthier Alternative To Sugar?on September 11, 2022 at 8:04 am
Penn State University explains that this delicious treat comes from Acer saccharum, or hard maple, a tree that grows in ... weight and contains just as much calcium as whole milk, according ...
- Opinion: Time to shout about the many virtues of cow’s milkon September 7, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Higher Level Stewardship conservation work has been carried out, with plans for more trees under Countryside ... probably know it contains protein and calcium but, according to the website of ...
- Butter Tree: Health Benefits, Uses And Side Effects Of Mahuaon August 26, 2022 at 1:31 pm
The Mahua tree has a medium height and dense, widely spaced branches around it. Numerous nutrients are abundant, including protein, iron, fat, phosphorus, calcium, and carbohydrates.
- Spots on pluot fruit probably nutritional problemon July 7, 2022 at 3:10 am
I know it sounds strange, but calcium is extracted quite heavily by certain fruit trees in our calcium-rich soils. Try an application of compost other than the one you produce around the tree.
- How to Add Calcium to Soil Around an Apple Treeon July 20, 2018 at 6:59 am
Additionally, adequate calcium in the soil surrounding apple trees helps the harvested fruit store for longer periods. Feed the soil around apple trees in addition to undertaking a foliar spraying ...