Thirty Years Down and a Century to Go!
A Narrative History of the Origins and Early History of the
National Atmospheric Deposition Program
Ellis B. Cowling
University Distinguished Professor At-Large Emeritus
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
In 1947, Hans Egner, Professor of Horticulture at the Agricultural College near Uppsala, Sweden began the first regional program of research on the chemistry of precipitation and discovered that an accurate mass balance for growth and development of plants could not be calculated without considering the amounts of essential nutrients in precipitation. Egner’s original network grew into an international program called the European Air Chemistry Network. Data from this Network provided important parts of the basis for Svante Odén’s assertion in 1967 about an “insidious chemical warfare among the nation’s of Europe” and Bert Bolin’s publication “Sulfur in Air and Precipitation – Sweden’s Case Study Contribution to the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.”
Stimulated by these advances in scientific understanding about human-induced changes in the chemical climate of the Earth and impacts on crops, forests, and aquatic ecosystems, the US Forest Service organized the “First International Symposium on Acid Precipitation and the Forest Ecosystem.” The major recommendation from this Symposium was “establishment of a permanent network of precipitation chemistry monitoring stations throughout the United States.” On December 5, 1975, the idea of using the Regional Project system of State Agricultural Experiment Stations as the framework for a long-term, multi-agency network of precipitation chemistry monitoring sites was proposed and became known as the National Atmospheric Deposition Program.
Major achievements of NADP include: