Articles | Volume 17, issue 7
Research article
11 Apr 2017
Research article |  | 11 Apr 2017

Long-term air concentrations, wet deposition, and scavenging ratios of inorganic ions, HNO3, and SO2 and assessment of aerosol and precipitation acidity at Canadian rural locations

Irene Cheng and Leiming Zhang

Abstract. This study analyzed long-term air concentrations and annual wet deposition of inorganic ions and aerosol and precipitation acidity at 31 Canadian sites from 1983 to 2011. Scavenging ratios of inorganic ions and relative contributions of particulate- and gas-phase species to NH4+, NO3, and SO42− wet deposition were determined. Geographical patterns of atmospheric Ca2+, Na+, Cl, NH4+, NO3, and SO42− were similar to wet deposition and attributed to anthropogenic sources, sea-salt emissions, and agricultural emissions. Decreasing trends in atmospheric NH4+ (1994–2010) and SO42− (1983–2010) were prevalent. Atmospheric NO3 increased prior to 2001 and then declined afterwards. These results are consistent with SO2, NOx and NH3 emission trends in Canada and the USA. Widespread declines in annual NO3 and SO42− wet deposition ranged from 0.07 to 1.0 kg ha−1 a−1 (1984–2011). Acidic aerosols and precipitation impacted southern and eastern Canada more than western Canada; however, both trends have been decreasing since 1994. Scavenging ratios of particulate NH4+, SO42− and NO3 differed from literature values by 22 %, 44 %, and a factor of 6, respectively, because of the exclusion of gas scavenging in previous studies. Average gas and particle scavenging contributions to total wet deposition were estimated to be 72 % for HNO3 and 28 % for particulate NO3, 37 % for SO2 and 63 % for particulate SO42−, and 30 % for NH3 and 70 % for particulate NH4+.

Short summary
Geographical and long-term (1983–2011) trends in air concentrations and wet deposition of inorganic ions and aerosol and precipitation acidity were analyzed at 31 sites in Canada. Declines in atmospheric ammonium, nitrate, and sulfate were consistent with decreasing emissions of NH3, NOx, and SO2. A decline in nitrate and sulfate wet deposition was also observed. Wet scavenging was further studied by estimating scavenging ratios and relative contributions of gases and aerosols to wet deposition.
Final-revised paper