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Freshwater Acidification and 'Acid Rain'

Lecture Notes for MSc Aquatic Ecosystems Management,
Freshwater Ecosystems Module

John Kinross


This lecture course investigates the development of public awareness
of freshwater acidification from the 1970's onwards, charts the scientific
investigations which led to our present knowledge of the problem, and
the development of practices to ameliorate its effects, with particular
reference to the UK.

The topic involves consideration of chemistry, radiation, hydrology,
conservation, freshwater ecology, ecotoxicology, microbiology,
human and animal health, statistical ecology , computer modelling,
international law, nutrient cycling / eutrophication, economics and politics

At the end of the course you should know :

    1. The causes of anthropogenic and natural freshwater acidification;
    2. The predisposing factors which make some regions more susceptible;
    3. The major sources of acidifying pollution, and how and why the
      proportions of these have changed over recent decades;
    4. The chemical changes in soils and water which result from acidification;
    5. The damage to terrestrial systems caused by atmospheric pollution;
    6. The biological effects of changes in pH and associated water chemistry,
      in both still and running waters;
    7. The scientific investigations which showed the time course of acidification and
      helped to discriminate among the various possibilities to identify the cause;
    8. Measures which can and are being taken to reduce the adverse effects (liming,
      reduction of pollution);
    9. The international agreements to limit transboundary pollution.

Lecture Topics

  1. Introduction
  2. Sources
  3. Atmospheric Chemistry, Dispersion and Deposition
  4. Reaction with soils: aluminium
  5. Effects of trees
  6. Aluminium chemistry and forest die-back
  7. Water chemistry
  8. Effects on biota and biological processes
  9. The history of acidification: palaeolimnology
  10. Costs of acid rain
  11. Control measures: legislation
  12. Emission reduction
  13. Recovery and remediation
  14. Acid Rain References
  15. Tutorial Questions

Dr John Kinross,
Pages last modified 7th October 2003