Printer Friendly

Peatlands as source of acid rain.

Peatlands as source of acid rain

Evergreens and glaciers lend southeast Alaska a pristine appeal. That's why geographer Lee F. Klinger was puzzled when he measure extremely acidic rainwater in this region. While normal rainwater has a pH about 5.6, measured values as low as 3.6 during the summers and falls of 1986 and 1987.

Other researchers have discovered acidic rainwater in remote sites and traced the acids back to sulfur compounds emitted by oceanic organisms. Klinger, who works at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., says the oceans may offer a partial explanation of the acids, but they don't tell the whole story. Analysis of the rainwater shows that, in addition to sulfuric acid, it contains certain organic acids that can only come from land sources, he reports.

Where, then, do those acids originate? Klinger suggests peatlands as an answer. Atmospheric patterns in the area indicate that the regions with the worst acid rain lie downwind from peatlands. Klinger tested the gases emitted by peatlands and found high levels of terpenes, isoprenes and other chemicals that could serve as sources of the organic acids.

Last year, Klinger reported that acid-loving mosses hasten the death of trees, in part by acidifying their immediate environment (SN: 4/30/88, p. 285). The work in southeast Alaska suggests that peatlands -- abundant in mosses -- kill forests over a large area by creating acid rain. This process, he says, promotes the spread of mosses and develops more peatland.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 23, 1989
Words:249
Previous Article:Depressed ozone seen in Arctic.
Next Article:The natural roots of fiber optics: you needn't go far to find them.
Topics:


Related Articles
Acid rain linked to damaged lakes.
Ants and the atmosphere: no picnic.
Watch on acid rain: a midterm report.
New acid rain threat identified.
Air pollution and forests: an update.
Acid rain: lowdown on health of lakes.
Southeast waterways will face an acid test.
New additive scrubs away NOx-ious gases.
Mapping the benefits of acid-rain controls.
More acid rain in East Asia's future.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters