Analysis of decadal time series in wet N concentrations at five rural sites in NE Spain

Avila A., Molowny-Horas R., Gimeno B.S., Peñuelas J. (2010) Analysis of decadal time series in wet N concentrations at five rural sites in NE Spain. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 207: 123-138.
Doi: 10.1007/s11270-009-0124-7


Nitrogen emissions have grown in Spain during the last 15 years. As precipitation scavenges gases and aerosols from the atmosphere, an effect on rainwater concentrations can be expected. However, time-series studies on wet N concentrations in the Iberian Peninsula are very scarce. This paper aims to fill this gap by analysing weekly rainfall N concentrations at a set of rural sites in Catalonia (NE Spain) from 1995/1996 to 2007 and a forest site monitored from 1983 to 2007. The sites encompass a range of rural environments and climate conditions, from the inland pre-Pyrenees (Sort) to the Mediterranean coast (Begur) and from north (Sort and Begur) to central (Palautordera and La Castanya) and south Catalonia (La Senia). We found a 1-year cycle for concentrations of NH 4 + and NO 3 - whereby higher values were reached at the end of spring-early summer, except at the easternmost coastal site of Begur. Weekly NH 4 + concentrations decreased with time at all sites (except at La Senia) whilst NO 3 - concentrations increased at all sites during the same period. Rainfall SO 4 2- concentrations decreased with time at all sites. The opposite trends in NO 3 - and SO 4 2- concentrations determined a shift in the relative acid contribution of those anions during the 12-13-year period. To interpret the increasing trend, mean annual NO 3 - concentrations were regressed against NO 2 Spanish emissions and to some indicators of local anthropogenic activity. The increase at Sort and Palautordera showed good correlation with local anthropogenic indicators. Wet inorganic N deposition ranged between 4.2 and 6.7 kg ha -1 year -1. When including estimates of dry deposition, total annual deposition rose up to 10-20 kg ha -1 year -1, values that have been found to initiate adverse effects on Mediterranean-type forest ecosystems. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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