Spatial and temporal trends of precipitation chemistry in the United States, 1985-2002

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A Seasonal Kendall Trend (SKT) test was applied to precipitation-weighted concentration data from 164 National Atmospheric Deposition Program National Trends Network (NADP/NTN) sites operational from 1985 to 2002. Analyses were performed on concentrations of ammonium, sulfate, nitrate, dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN, sum of nitrogen from nitrate and ammonium), and earth crustal cations (ECC, sum of calcium, magnesium, and potassium). Over the 18-year period, statistically significant (p ≤ 0.10) increases in ammonium concentrations occurred at 93 sites (58%), while just three sites had statistically significant ammonium decreases. Central and northern Midwestern states had the largest ammonium increases. The generally higher ammonium concentrations were accompanied by significant sulfate decreases (139 sites, 85%), and only one significant increase which occured in Texas. In the west central United States there were significant nitrate increases (45 sites, 27%), while in the northeastern United States there were significant decreases (25 sites, 15%). Significant DIN decreases were observed in the northeastern United States (11 sites, 7%); elsewhere there were significant increases at 75 sites (46%). ECC decreased significantly at 65 sites (40%), predominately in the central and southern United States, and increased at 11 sites (7%). The concentrations of sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium in precipitation have changed markedly over the time period studied. Such trends indicate changes in the mix of gases and particles scavenged by precipitation, possibly reflecting changes in emissions, atmospheric chemical transformations, and weather patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-361
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Precipitation chemistry
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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