Lithosphere/Geosphere Acid rain has several consequences on the geosphere. One method is for rainwater runoff to sink into the soil. When acid rain falls on the ground, it releases aluminum and other toxic elements, depriving the soil of important nutrients. This can lead to aluminum toxicity in plants that uptake this element through their roots. Also, acidic soils are less able to retain water, which may cause some areas of land to become dry even though more rain falls than normal. The lithosphere/geosphere is affected by acid rain in many ways; read about them here.
Acid rain has a significant impact on the biosphere because the impacts of acid rain combined with other climatic pressures make trees and other plants less able to endure insects, low temperatures, and disease. These pressures have led to an increase in deforestation and forest degradation.
Rain also has a large impact on the ocean. When it falls as precipitation, it provides both freshwater and oxygen to bodies of water. However when rainfall occurs as flooding, it can cause extensive damage by spreading out over large areas, causing mudslides, eroding soil, and contaminating groundwater. This type of damage can be particularly severe for small islands.
Finally, rain has a large impact on humans through floods. Floods can cause widespread damage by destroying homes and businesses, and killing people. They can also carry pollutants into rivers, lakes, and oceans, which are harmful to animals living in those systems.
Flooding is only one problem that can occur with rain. The amount of precipitation that falls as flooding is only a small fraction of the total volume of rain that falls each year. The other 99% or so of the rain is fresh water that flows into streams, lakes, and oceans. Because this fresh water is lacking in minerals and nutrients, it cannot support life as we know it.
These compounds may reach extremely high altitudes in the sky, where they mix and react with water, oxygen, and other molecules to generate highly acidic pollution known as acid rain. The gases involved in this process include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Acid rain can damage environmental resources by removing vital minerals from soil and leaching them into lakes and oceans--where they can no longer be absorbed by vegetation or dissolved in water for use by animals. It can also cause serious health problems for people who are exposed to it regularly (e.g., through eating food grown in acidic soils).
The environmental effects of acid rain have led many countries to establish regulatory programs that limit or prohibit the emission of these pollutants. Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides have been reduced through clean energy technologies and improved industrial processes. However, large-scale releases of sulfuric and nitric acids into the atmosphere will still occur when volcanoes erupt or when sea waters containing acid salts drain into the ocean.
Acid rain can have a negative impact on human health. The soluble salts present in acid rain can enter plants through their stomata and accumulate therein, causing injury to the tissues of the plant. This leads to nutrient deficiencies in the plant, which then cannot resist infection by harmful organisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Acid rain and fog can harm woods, particularly those at higher elevations. Acid deposits deplete the soil of critical elements such as calcium and cause aluminum to be released into the soil, making it difficult for trees to absorb water. Some soils are better than others in neutralizing acids. If you're concerned about acid rain harming your property, contact a local environmental agency to learn what measures can be taken to prevent it.
Acid rain can also harm other parts of the environment. It can dissolve rocks and contaminate groundwater resources. In addition, it can damage property through erosion caused by wind and water. The types of harm depend on how much acid is present in the rain and how sensitive the affected area is to acidity. Acids that fall from the sky can combine with atmospheric gases such as nitrogen and oxygen to form compounds such as nitric and sulfuric acids. These chemicals can burn skin or eat away at metals such as copper and zinc. More acidic substances are produced when solar radiation breaks down vegetation, causing the release of carbon dioxide and other gases that combine with water to create acids that can drip from trees or be absorbed by ground water.
Acid rain has been known to cause problems for areas where timber grows commercially. The most notable example is the death of hundreds of thousands of acres of forest due to acid rain in Europe.