Aluminium and base cation chemistry in dynamic acidification models – need for a reappraisal?

Gustafsson, Jon Petter; Belyazid, Salim; McGivney, Eric; Löfgren, Stefan

Long-term simulations of the water composition in acid forest soils require that accurate descriptions of aluminium and base cation chemistry are used. Both weathering rates and soil nutrient availability depend on the concentrations of inline-formulaAl3+, of inline-formulaH+, and of base cations (inline-formulaCa2+, inline-formulaMg2+, inline-formulaNa+, and inline-formulaK+) . Assessments of the acidification status and base cation availability will depend on the model being used. Here we review in what ways different dynamic soil chemistry models describe the processes governing aluminium and base cation concentrations in the soil water. Furthermore, scenario simulations with the HD-MINTEQ model are used to illustrate the difference between model approaches. The results show that all investigated models provide the same type of response to changes in input water chemistry. Still, for base cations we show that the differences in the magnitude of the response may be considerable depending on whether a cation-exchange equation (Gaines–Thomas, Gapon) or an organic complexation model is used. The former approach, which is used in many currently used models (e.g. MAGIC, ForSAFE), causes stronger pH buffering over a relatively narrow pH range, as compared to state-of-the-art models relying on more advanced descriptions in which organic complexation is important (CHUM, HD-MINTEQ). As for aluminium, a “fixed” gibbsite constant, as used in MAGIC, SMART/VSD, and ForSAFE, leads to slightly more pH buffering than in the more advanced models that consider both organic complexation and inline-formulaAl(OH)3(s) precipitation, but in this case the effect is small. We conclude that the descriptions of acid–base chemistry and base cation binding in models such as MAGIC, SMART/VSD, and ForSAFE are only likely to work satisfactorily in a narrow pH range. If the pH varies greatly over time, the use of modern organic complexation models is preferred over cation-exchange equations.

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Gustafsson, Jon Petter / Belyazid, Salim / McGivney, Eric / et al: Aluminium and base cation chemistry in dynamic acidification models – need for a reappraisal?. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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