CASE STUDY: ACID RAIN FORMATION AND ITS EFFECTS
Acid Rain - is the rainwater containing chemical pollutants that are release by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil. The two main pollutants are sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide which are released in emissions from power stations, factories and car exhausts.
The pollutants that cause acid rain are carried by wind (travelling 1000-2000km within the atmosphere in 3-5days). They are therefore easily transported across international boundaries. This means that a country suffering the effects of acid rain is not necessarily responsible for its creation. Many forests and lakes in Scandinavia for example have been damaged by pollution which has travelled from Britain. Therefore international co-operation is essential to solve the problems caused by acid rain. Examples of these (from Flinders, 2001) include:-
1980s - joint study between UK electricity generators /coal producers and Norway and Sweden to research the processes resulting in acid rain.
UN proposal signed / agreed by a few countries (not the UK) achieved a 30% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions.
Adding lime to polluted can help to reduce the pH of the water, reducing acidity e.g. used in Sweden. In Germany trees have been sprayed to wash off the acid. BUT these cures are not long-term solutions and they are expensive.
Prevention is obviously the ideal solution, however to achieve this sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions must be reduced, examples of how this can be achieved include:
Web References for further information:
Acid Rain Program (Canadian Site) - very good
Acid Rain Study (Southampton University) - very user friendly site
Flinders, K. (ed) 2001 A New Introduction to Geography, OCR, Hodder and Stoughton
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