ABOVE-GROUND SULFUR CYCLING IN ADJACENT CONIFEROUS AND DECIDUOUS FORESTS AND WATERSHED SULFUR RETENTION IN THE GEORGIA PIEDMONT, U.S.A.

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Abstract

Atmospheric deposition and above-ground cycling of sulfur (S) were evaluated in adjacent deciduous and coniferous forests at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed (PMRW), Georgia, U.S.A. Total atmospheric S deposition (wet plus dry) was 12.9 and 12.7 kg ha−1 yr−1 for the deciduous and coniferous forests, respectively, from October 1987 through November 1989. Dry deposition contributes more than 40% to the total atmospheric S deposition, and SO2 is the major source (∼55%) of total dry S deposition. Dry deposition to these canopies is similar to regional estimates suggesting that 60-km proximity to emission sources does not noticeably impact dry deposition at PMRW. Below-canopy S fluxes (throughfall plus stemflow) in each forest are 37% higher annually in the deciduous forest than in the coniferous forest. An excess in below-canopy S flux in the deciduous forest is attributed to leaching and higher dry deposition than in the coniferous forest. Total S deposition to the forest floor by throughfall, stemflow and litterfall was 2.4 and 2.8 times higher in the deciduous and coniferous forests, respectively, than annual S growth requirement for foliage and wood. Although S deposition exceeds growth requirement, more than 95% of the total atmospheric S deposition was retained by the watershed in 1988 and 1989. The S retention at PMRW is primarily due to SO42− adsorption by iron oxides and hydroxides in watershed soils. The S content in white oak and loblolly pine boles have increased more than 200% in the last 20 yr, possibly reflecting increases in emissions.

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