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ZingPath: Environmental Change

Acid Rain

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Environmental Change

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Lesson Focus

Acid Rain


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You will learn about the effects that humans have on the environment, as well as the effects, such as species diversity, that natural disasters have on communities and ecosystems.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain the formation of acid rain.
  • Explain how acid rain can impact ecosystem stability.
  • Make suggestions for reducing acid rain.

Everything You'll Have Covered

What causes acid rain?

~ Sulfur oxide, carbon oxide, and nitrogen oxide molecules released in the burning of fossil fuels dissolve with water molecules in the atmosphere and, through chemical reactions, form nitric, carbonic, and sulfuric acids. This causes rainfall with a high level of acidity.

What was the environmental result of industrial development in England during the second half of the twentieth century?

~ The increase in England's industrial activity resulted in increased air pollution. This caused acid rain to fall over many Baltic countries such as Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. In turn, the acid rainfall over this region led to the extinction of many native fish species.

How can acid rain impact ecosystem stability?

~ Acid rain changes the pH of aquatic ecosystems. Such pH changes can endanger many fish species, so fish populations in aquatic ecosystems can fall.

Plants are also affected by acid rain by damaging their roots and waxy leaf coverings. This root damage can limit mineral intake and growth. Damage to the waxy covering renders plants more susceptible to disease.

Since all the organisms in an ecosystem are interdependent, other organisms will be affected by these changes triggered by acid rain.

In which region of the United States is acid rainfall most common?

~ Acid rain falls most often in the northeastern United States due to the high concentration of power plants, factories, and cities in this region. Winds from the Midwest also increase the frequency of acid rain in the Northeast.

How can acid rain be reduced?

~ Acid rain can be reduced if we burn less fossil fuel, install filters on factories and cars, and cut down on our consumption of energy.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 2 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with the terms acid rain, air pollution, and carbonic acid.
Course Biology
Type of Tutorial Animation
Key Vocabulary acid rain, air pollution, carbonic acid