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Changing regional emissions of airborne pollutants reflected in the chemistry of snowpacks and wetfall in the Rocky Mountain region, USA, 1993–2012

March 10, 2016

Wintertime precipitation sample data from 55 Snowpack sites and 17 National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP)/National Trends Network Wetfall sites in the Rocky Mountain region were examined to identify long-term trends in chemical concentration, deposition, and precipitation using Regional and Seasonal Kendall tests. The Natural Resources Conservation Service snow-telemetry (SNOTEL) network provided snow-water-equivalent data from 33 sites located near Snowpack- and NADP Wetfall-sampling sites for further comparisons. Concentration and deposition of ammonium, calcium, nitrate, and sulfate were tested for trends for the period 1993–2012. Precipitation trends were compared between the three monitoring networks for the winter seasons and downward trends were observed for both Snowpack and SNOTEL networks, but not for the NADP Wetfall network. The dry-deposition fraction of total atmospheric deposition, relative to wet deposition, was shown to be considerable in the region. Potential sources of regional airborne pollutant emissions were identified from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2011 National Emissions Inventory, and from long-term emissions data for the period 1996–2013. Changes in the emissions of ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide were reflected in significant trends in snowpack and wetfall chemistry. In general, ammonia emissions in the western USA showed a gradual increase over the past decade, while ammonium concentrations and deposition in snowpacks and wetfall showed upward trends. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide declined while regional trends in snowpack and wetfall concentrations and deposition of nitrate and sulfate were downward.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Changing regional emissions of airborne pollutants reflected in the chemistry of snowpacks and wetfall in the Rocky Mountain region, USA, 1993–2012
DOI 10.1007/s11270-016-2784-4
Authors George P. Ingersoll, Debra C. Miller, Kristi H. Morris, Jill A. McMurray, Garrett M. Port, Brian Caruso
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
Series Number
Index ID 70174947
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Colorado Water Science Center