(273e) Quantifying Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition to U.S. Waterways

Authors: 
Wagstrom, K., University of Connecticut
Parvez, F., University of Connecticut
Increasing anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen released into the atmosphere contributes to water eutrophication. In this study we quantified seasonal dry and wet deposition of major nitrogen-containing species, including ammonia (NH3), nitric acid (HNO3), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate ammonium (PNH4) and particulate nitrate (PNO3) onto watersheds in the contiguous United States. We used a regional chemical transport model, the Comprehensive Air Quality Model with eXtension (CAMx) to obtain deposition information in the contiguous United States.

Our results show that gaseous species dominant dry deposited mass. Ammonia (NH3), nitric acid (HNO3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) each contribute 40% to 60%, 20% to 40%, and approximately 10% of the total nitrogen dry deposition, respectively. For wet deposition the major contributors are nitric acid (HNO3) and particulate ammonium (PNH4). HNO3 contributes 40%-60% of the total nitrogen wet deposited mass, PNH4 20%-40%, and NH3 and particulate nitrate (PNO3) together about 10%. Spring and summer consistently receive the more deposited nitrogen than fall or winter for both wet and dry deposition. The maximum deposition of spring is over twice that of fall due to more frequent rainfall, which removes the nitrogen-containing species from the atmosphere increasing the loading to watersheds. Increased vegetation in spring and summer increases dry deposition.

Over the different watersheds, the annual mass of nitrogen deposited through dry deposition ranges from around 110 to 910 kgN/km2, over twice that of wet deposition, which ranges from about 40 to 390 kgN/km2. The Eastern United States, including Ohio, Mid Atlantic, Great Lakes, Upper Mississippi, Lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and New England watersheds alongside the California, Texas-Gulf, and Arkansas-White-Red watersheds receive the most deposition during the year. These spatial trends exist because nitrogen sources are mainly vehicular emissions, power plants, and fertilizer use and these watersheds are highly populated.