The effect of alternate rainfall scenarios on acidification of a forested watershed subjected to chronic acidic deposition was assessed using the model of acidification of groundwater in catchments (MAGIC). The model was calibrated at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed, near Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. using measured soil properties, wet and dry deposition, and modeled hydrologic routing. Model forecast simulations were evaluated to compare alternate temporal averaging of rainfall inputs and variations in rainfall amount and seasonal distribution. Soil water alkalinity was predicted to decrease to substantially lower concentrations under lower rainfall compared with current or higher rainfall conditions. Soil water alkalinity was also predicted to decrease to lower levels when the majority of rainfall occurred during the growing season compared with other rainfall distributions. Changes in rainfall distribution that result in decreases in net soil water flux will temporarily delay acidification. Ultimately, however, decreased soil water flux will result in larger increases in soil- adsorbed sulfur and soil-water sulfate concentrations and decreases in alkalinity when compared to higher water flux conditions. Potential climate change resulting in significant changes in rainfall amounts, seasonal distribution of rainfall, or evapotranspiration will change net soil water flux and, consequently, will affect the dynamics of the acidification response to continued sulfate loading.
Additional publication details
Predicting watershed acidification under alternate rainfall conditions