Uncertainty analysis on simple mass balance model to calculate critical loads for soil acidity
Simple mass balance equations (SMBE) of critical acid loads (CAL) in forest soil were developed to assess potential risks of air pollutants to ecosystems. However, to apply SMBE reliably at large scales, SMBE must be tested for adequacy and uncertainty. Our goal was to provide a detailed analysis of uncertainty in SMBE so that sound strategies for scaling up CAL estimates to the national scale could be developed. Specifically, we wanted to quantify CAL uncertainty under natural variability in 17 model parameters, and determine their relative contributions in predicting CAL. Results indicated that uncertainty in CAL came primarily from components of base cation weathering (BCw; 49%) and acid neutralizing capacity (46%), whereas the most critical parameters were BCw base rate (62%), soil depth (20%), and soil temperature (11%). Thus, improvements in estimates of these factors are crucial to reducing uncertainty and successfully scaling up SMBE for national assessments of CAL.