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Long-term variability in base cation, sulfur and nitrogen deposition and critical load exceedance of terrestrial ecosystems in China☆

 The rapid development of China’s industrial economy and implementation of air pollution controls have led to great changes in sulfur (S), nitrogen (N) and base cation (BC) deposition in the past three decades. We estimated China’s anthropogenic BC emissions and simulated BC deposition from 1985 to 2015 with a five-year interval using a multilayer Eulerian model. Deposition of S and N from 2000 to 2015 with a five-year interval was simulated with the EMEP MSC-W model and the Multi-resolution Emission Inventory of China (MEIC). The critical load (CL) and its exceedance were then calculated to evaluate the potential long-term acidification risks. From 1985 to 2005, the BC deposition in China was estimated to have increased by 16 % and then decreased by 33 % till 2015. S deposition was simulated to increase by 49 % from 2000 to 2005 and then decrease by 44 % in 2015, while N deposition increased by 32 % from 2000 to 2010 with a limited reduction afterward. The maximum CL of S was found to increase in 67 % of mainland China areas from 1985 to 2005 and to decline in 55 % of the areas from 2005 to 2015, attributed largely to the changed BC deposition. Consistent with the progress of national controls on SO2 and NOX emissions, the CL exceedance of S increased from 2.9 to 4.6 Mt during 2000–2005 and then decreased to 2.5 Mt in 2015, while that of N increased from 0.4 in 2000 to 1.2 Mt in 2010 and then decreased to 1.1 Mt in 2015. The reduced BC deposition due to particle emission controls partially offset the benefit of SO2 control on acidification risk reduction in the past decade. It demonstrates the need for a comprehensive strategy for multi-pollutant control against soil acidification.

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