Articles | Volume 12, issue 14
Research article
25 Jul 2012
Research article |  | 25 Jul 2012

Wet and dry deposition of atmospheric nitrogen at ten sites in Northern China

Y. P. Pan, Y. S. Wang, G. Q. Tang, and D. Wu

Abstract. Emissions of reactive nitrogen (N) species can affect surrounding ecosystems via atmospheric deposition. However, few long-term and multi-site measurements have focused on both the wet and the dry deposition of individual N species in large areas of Northern China. Thus, the magnitude of atmospheric deposition of various N species in Northern China remains uncertain. In this study, the wet and dry atmospheric deposition of different N species was investigated during a three-year observation campaign at ten selected sites in Northern China. The results indicate that N deposition levels in Northern China were high with a ten-site, three-year average of 60.6 kg N ha−1 yr−1. The deposition levels showed spatial and temporal variation in the range of 28.5–100.4 kg N ha−1 yr−1. Of the annual total deposition, 40% was deposited via precipitation, and the remaining 60% was comprised of dry-deposited forms. Compared with gaseous N species, particulate N species were not the major contributor of dry-deposited N; they contributed approximately 10% to the total flux. On an annual basis, oxidized species accounted for 21% of total N deposition, thereby implying that other forms of gaseous N, such as NH3, comprised a dominant portion of the total flux. The contribution of NO3 to N deposition was enhanced in certain urban and industrial areas, possibly due to the fossil fuse combustion. As expected, the total N deposition in Northern China was significantly larger than the values reported by national scale monitoring networks in Europe, North America and East Asia because of high rates of wet deposition and gaseous NH3 dry deposition. Taken together, these findings show that NH3 emissions should be abated to mitigate high N deposition and associated potential impacts on ecosystems in Northern China. The present results improve our understanding of spatio-temporal variations of magnitudes, pathways and species of deposited N in the target areas, and are important not only to inform conservation and regulatory bodies but also to initiate further detailed studies. Uncertainties among current observations underscore the need to quantify the impact of vegetation on dry deposition and to refine the simulation of dry deposition velocity.

Final-revised paper