Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Focus

, Volume 1, Issue 1–2, pp 119–134 | Cite as

Critical Loads and Exceedances of Acid Deposition and Associated Forest Growth in the Northern Hardwood and BorealConiferous Forests in Québec, Canada

  • Rock Ouimet
  • Louis Duchesne
  • Daniel Houle
  • Paul A. Arp


We used the Québec forest monitoring network (`Réseaud'Étude et de Surveillance des Écosystèmes Forestiers' or RESEF)along with its atmospheric monitoring stations to assess criticalS and N loads and their combined soil acidification exceedancesfor natural ecosystems of the northern hardwood and borealconiferous forests in Québec, Canada. Critical loads (CL) forforest soil acidification were calculated using the simple mass-balance (SMB) approach and with the steady-state PROFILE model.Atmospheric deposition rates for water, S, N, Ca, Mg, Na, and K,for the years 1989–1993, and detailed, plot-specific forest andsoil characteristics were used as input. The SMB model alsorequired information regarding nutrient uptake and storage in theaboveground woody biomass. The CL calculations indicated that,from the 31 RESEF plots, 18 received atmospheric acidic inputs inexcess of their CL (55 and 61% of the hardwood and coniferousplots, respectively). The range of CL exceedance varied from 60to 470 eq ha-1 yr-1 for the hardwood stands, and from 10to 590 eq ha-1 yr-1 for the coniferous stands. The standswith CL exceedance were mainly located in the western and centralpart of the province. Stand growth associated with exceedanceclass of acidity was determined using the RESEF plots along withselected permanent forest survey plots having similar sitecharacteristics, but for which longer growth records wereavailable. We found a significant negative correlation betweenforest growth rates and critical soil acidification exceedancefor both the northern hardwood and the boreal conifer sites.Specifically, plots with critical load exceedances were found tohave a growth reduction of about 30% during the 1974–1982 andthe 1972–1990 measurement (plots with no soil acidificationexceedance served as a control). While this correlation is notnecessarily causal, it is nevertheless consistent with theexpectation that increased losses of soil base cations on accountof increased soil acidification should and could lead todeteriorating forest health conditions.

acid deposition Bc/Al ratio boreal coniferousforest critical loads exceedance forest stand growth northern hardwood soil acidification 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rock Ouimet
    • 1
  • Louis Duchesne
    • 2
  • Daniel Houle
    • 2
  • Paul A. Arp
    • 3
  1. 1.Direction de la Recherche ForestièreForêt Québec, Ministère des Ressources Naturelles du QuébecSainte-FoyCanada
  2. 2.Direction de la Recherche ForestièreForêt Québec, Ministère des Ressources Naturelles du QuébecSainte-FoyCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of Forestry and Environmental ManagementUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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