Abstract

A meeting on the Geochemistry of Acid Rain was held in the University of Strathclyde on 30 August 1985. It was convened by W. M. Edmunds (Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon.) and K. Coe (University of Exeter).

The phenomenon of acid rain has been known for at least a century; one of the first records of acid rain was from Britain (Smith 1852.

Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 2, 207–17.) Smith described acidic rainfall (with up to 38 mg 1 SO2−4) from the industrial areas of Manchester and noted amongst other things the effects on stone buildings. General awareness of the long range international consequences as well as the widespread, as opposed to local environmental impact, of acidic deposition has grown during the last 15–20 years, mainly as a result of research in Scandinavia and North America.

There is now an extensive literature on the subject of acidic deposition and its effects, particularly in relation to the origin and fate of acidic substances in the atmosphere and their possible impact on surface waters and biota. The two most serious questions to emerge are (i) whether current levels of acidic deposition are responsible for the increase in the number of fishless streams and lakes in Scandinavia and elsewhere, and (ii) whether the presence of anthropogenic acidic substances in the atmosphere is a threat, directly or indirectly, to the productivity of European and North American forests.

Relativety little research has so far been carried out on

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