Contemporary estimates of atmospheric nitrogen deposition to the watersheds of New York State, USA

Heather E. Golden, Elizabeth Weeks Boyer

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Abstract

Atmospheric inputs of reactive nitrogen (N) to ecosystems are a particular concern in the northeastern USA, including New York State, where rates of atmospheric N deposition are among the highest in the nation. We calculate the seasonal and annual spatial variations of contemporary inorganic atmospheric N deposition loading to multi-scale watersheds across New York State using numerous monitoring datasets of precipitation and ambient atmospheric N concentrations. Our models build upon and refine previous efforts estimating the spatial distribution of N deposition. Estimates of total inorganic wet deposition (NH4 -N + NO3-N) across New York ranged from 4.7 to 10.5 kg ha-1 yr-1 under contemporary conditions (averaged 2002-2004), and both seasonal and annual predicted rates of inorganic N deposition (NH4-N, NO3-N, and total) fit relatively well with that of observed measurements. Our results suggest that "hot spots" of N deposition are, for the most part, spatially distributed according to geographic positions (i.e., relative location from sources and the Great Lakes system) and elevation. We also detect seasonal variations in deposition, showing that total wet atmospheric inorganic N deposition inputs to watersheds (extracted from the four-digit HUC calculations) are highest during the spring (mean = 2.4 kg ha-1, stddev = 0.29) and lowest during the winter months (mean = 1.4 kg ha-1, stddev = 0.23). Results also suggest that wet NO3 - consistently comprises a slightly higher proportion of wet N deposition than wet NH4 + throughout watersheds of New York, ranging from 2.5 to 6.1 kg NO3-N ha-1 yr-1 compared to NH4+, which ranges from 2.2 to 4.4 kg NH4-N ha-1 yr-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-339
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Volume155
Issue number1-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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