When the accumulated acids are washed off a surface by the next rain, this acidic water flows over and through the ground, and can harm plants and wildlife, such as insects and fish. The amount of acidity in the atmosphere that deposits to earth through dry deposition depends on the amount of rainfall an area receives.
For example, in desert areas the ratio of dry to wet deposition is higher than an area that receives several inches of rain each year. Acidity and alkalinity are measured using a pH scale for which 7. The lower a substance's pH less than 7 , the more acidic it is; the higher a substance's pH greater than 7 , the more alkaline it is.
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Normal rain has a pH of about 5. Acid rain usually has a pH between 4. Unlike wet deposition, dry deposition is difficult and expensive to measure. When acid deposition is washed into lakes and streams, it can cause some to turn acidic.
The Long-Term Monitoring LTM Network measures and monitors surface water chemistry at over sites to provide valuable information on aquatic ecosystem health and how water bodies respond to changes in acid-causing emissions and acid deposition. Even before that, over 4 billion years ago, it is suspected that the air may have had 10, times as much carbon dioxide as today.
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Geologists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison backed up this theory be studying rocks and publishing the results in a issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. That is a condition that will dissolve rocks," said study team member John Valley.
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Sulfur dioxide SO 2 and nitrogen oxides NOx released into the air by fossil-fuel power plants, vehicles and oil refineries are the biggest cause of acid rain today, according to the EPA. Two thirds of sulfur dioxide and one fourth of nitrogen oxide found in the atmosphere come from electric power generators.
A chemical reaction happens when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides mix with water, oxygen and other chemicals in the air. They then become sulfuric and nitric acids that mix with precipitation and fall to the ground. Precipitation is considered acidic when its pH level is about 5. The normal pH of rain is around 5. Acid rain affects nearly everything. Plants, soil, trees, buildings and even statues can be transformed by the precipitation. Acid rain has been found to be very hard on trees. It weakens them by washing away the protective film on leaves, and it stunts growth.
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