Use of Stable Isotope Ratios for Evaluating Sulfur Sources and Losses at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest
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Anthropogenic S emissions have been declining in eastern North America since the early 1970s. Declines in atmospheric S deposition have resulted in decreases in concentrations and fluxes of SO42− in precipitation and drainage waters. Recent S mass balance studies have shown that the outflow of SO42− in drainage waters greatly exceeds current S inputs from atmospheric deposition. Identifying the S source(s) which contribute(s) to the discrepancy in watershed S budgets is a major concern to scientists and policy makers because of the need to better understand the rate and spatial extent of recovery from acidic deposition. Results from S mass balances combined with model calculations and isotopic analyses of SO42− in precipitation and drainage waters at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) suggest that this discrepancy cannot be explained by either underestimates of dry deposited S or desorption of previously stored SO42−. Isotopic results suggest that the excess S may be at least partially derived from net mineralization of organic S as well as the weathering of S-bearing minerals.
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