The mid-Atlantic Highland region is
known to be adversely impacted by the atmospheric deposition of
pollutants. In fact, portions of this area are considered to be
among the worst in the nation for acid rain. Consequently, NOAA
Air Resources Laboratory's (NOAA/ARL) Atmospheric Turbulence and
Diffusion Division, with support from the Canaan
Valley Institute and in collaboration with the U.
S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has initiated an air quality research
and monitoring site on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
in Canaan Valley, WV (39° 03' 48" N, 79° 25' 15" W).
The research at this site is initially focusing
on acid deposition, nitrogen deposition, and ambient ozone levels.
Acid deposition from the atmosphere can be a significant source
of acidification in watersheds. Excess nitrogen, since it is a nutrient,
can cause alterations in the balance of plant and animal life, and
can lead to depleted oxygen levels in lakes and streams. Ozone,
although beneficial and necessary in the upper atmosphere, is a
powerful oxidizing agent which can kill plant and lung tissue.
Since 1 June 2000, standard meteorological
measurements as well as NOAA Atmospheric Integrated Research Monitoring
Network wet deposition sampling (NOAA/AIRMoN-wet)
have been performed. This sampling provides daily analysis of the
amount of precipitation as well as characteristics such as pH, conductivity,
and a number of ion concentrations. The daily sampling protocol
provides higher temporal resolution of precipitation events (many
other sites only perform weekly sampling) and allows for more accurate
determination of source regions. The AIRMoN-wet network of stations
is part of the National Atmospheric
Deposition Program (NADP), a larger nationwide network of precipitation
These two initial measurement systems are
the first phase of a comprehensive effort to assess atmospheric
pollutant deposition to the Canaan Valley region.
In 2001 a NOAA/AIRMoN-dry
measurement suite,was installed to monitor the deposition of pollutants
in the gaseous and particulate phases. This allows the measurement
of pollutant deposition through both "wet" and "dry" means, both
of which are vital to assessing total deposition, because the relative
contributions of each are often nearly equal.
An ultimate goal of the deposition
studies is to be able to improve the current models used for predicting
atmospheric deposition over various types of land cover, particularly
in mountainous regions. Wet deposition by means of rain and snow
can be considered more straightforward than dry deposition, since
the wet removal process is in large part a function of rainfall
and snowfall amounts over any land cover. However, dry deposition
is strongly a function of land cover, as well as air pollutant species,
and the models which describe this mechanism are complex. Consequently,
in part to support the modeling efforts, additional measurement
systems, including surface energy balance and surface radiation
instrument suites, are also planned to be deployed in the near future.
These systems will act to link land cover characteristics to atmospheric
conditions as they relate to pollutant deposition.
To access meteorological data and a current
image from the Canaan Valley air quality research and monitoring
site click here.
If there are any questions or comments regarding
the atmospheric studies in Canaan Valley, please contact Chris