Acid Rain


The term ‘acid rain’ describes the process of wet deposition of acidic compounds (e.g. sulfuric acid, nitrous acid and/or organic acids) in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In particular, acidic deposition has different, adverse, effects on terrestrial vegetation, mainly due to soil acidification and the uptake of substances which disturb the pH levels within plant cells or produce radicals.

Keywords: SO2; NOx; terrestrial ecosystems; cation leaching; pH stat; sulfite oxidation


Carreira JA, Harrison AF, Sheppard LJ and Woods C (1997) Reduced soil P availability in a Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr) plantation induced by applied acid‐mist: significance in forest decline. Forest Ecology and Management 92: 153–166.

Marschner H (1995) Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants, 2nd edn. London: Academic Press.

Muller B, Touraine B and Rennenberg H (1996) Interaction between atmospheric and pedospheric nitrogen nutrition in spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) seedlings. Plant, Cell and Environment 19: 345–355.

Rennenberg H and Polle A (1994) Metabolic consequences of atmospheric sulfur influx into plants. In: Alscher RG and Wellburn AR (eds). Plant Responses to the Gaseous Environment, pp. 165–180. London: Chapman and Hall.

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Van Dijk HFG, Creemers RCM, Rijniers JPLWM and Roelofs JGM (1989) Impact of artificial ammonium‐enriched rainwater on soils and young coniferous trees in a greenhouse: I. Effects on the soils. Environmental Pollution 62: 317–336.

Wellburn AR (1988) Air Pollution and Acid Rain: The Biological Impact. London: Longman.

Further Reading

Cram WJ, De Kok LJ, Stulen I, Brunold C and Rennenberg H (1997) Sulfur Metabolism in Higher Plants. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys.

Longhurst JW (ed.) (1991) Acid Deposition: Origins, Impacts and Abatement Strategies. Berlin: Springer.

Wellburn AR (1990) Why are atmospheric oxides of nitrogen usually phytotoxic and not alternative fertilizers? New Phytologist 115: 395–429.

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How to Cite close
Rennenberg, Heinz, and Gessler, Arthur(Apr 2001) Acid Rain. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001316]