Acid rain and its environmental effects: Recent scientific advances

Atmospheric Environment
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Abstract

The term ‘acid rain’ refers to atmospheric deposition of acidic constituents that impact the earth as rain, snow, particulates, gases, and vapor. Acid rain was first recognized by Ducros (1845) and subsequently described by the English chemist Robert Angus Smith (Smith, 1852) whose pioneering studies linked the sources to industrial emissions and included early observations of deleterious environmental effects (Smith, 1872). Smith's work was largely forgotten until the mid-20th century when observations began to link air pollution to the deposition of atmospheric sulfate (SO42−) and other chemical constituents, first near the metal smelter at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, and later at locations in Europe, North America, and Australia (Gorham, 1961). Our modern understanding of acid rain as an environmental problem caused largely by regional emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) stems from observations in the 1960s and early 1970s in Sweden by Svante Odén (Odén, 1976), and in North America by Gene Likens and colleagues (Likens and Bormann, 1974). These scientists and many who followed showed the link to emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources, and documented the environmental effects of acid rain such as the acidification of surface waters and toxic effects on vegetation, fish, and other biota.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Acid rain and its environmental effects: Recent scientific advances
Series title Atmospheric Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.10.019
Volume 146
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Pergamon Press
Publisher location Oxford
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 1
Last page 4