, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 187-196

The GANE Roof Project: The impact of reduced N & S deposition and experimental warming in an acid grassland

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Abstract

A field-based system used to quantify the response of acid grassland to reduced atmospheric nitrogen and sulphur deposition, and to investigate the effects of elevated soil temperature on acid grassland development is described. The system is based on 12 retractable roofs, covering undisturbed experimental plots of acid grassland and three controls. Nine roofs are used to exclude natural precipitation and three roofs used to retain emitted IR radiation at night. An irrigation system has been developed to simulate natural precipitation, allowing for the application of specific treatment regimes of ambient, reduced nitrogen and reduced nitrogen/sulphur deposition beneath the nine rain exclusion plots. Plant, soil parameters, leachate chemistry and gaseous fluxes are being monitored and initial results on soil water chemistry are described. Warming appeared to enhance nitrate concentrations in soil water but this was not sustained beyond the first year of treatment. In contrast, the deposition reduction treatments decreased soil water nitrate concentrations within a few weeks of reducing deposition. This was not observed for other solutes such as sulphate or ammonium suggesting a more direct link between deposition of nitrate and leaching losses.