NADP: Keeping You Connected, Issue 9

 NADP: Keeping You Connected February 2017 | Issue 9 

NADP: Keeping You Connected is a quarterly e-newsletter designed to keep you informed about atmospheric chemistry trends and other updates from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. To offer feedback or submit a suggestion, please email If you were forwarded this notification and would like to receive future newsletters, click here to subscribe.

In this issue:

First Look at New NADP Outreach Videos

The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) is pleased to provide a first look at new NADP outreach videos! NADP has been working towards producing these new videos, which will be used for educational and informational purposes. On the NADP website, these videos can be found by clicking on the "Videos" tab.

Please enjoy the first round of videos. Thank you to the NADP Ecological Responses and Outreach Subcommittee for their suggestion to create the videos, as well as their feedback on the content.

Federal and Tribal Perspective of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program

How are various federal and tribal organizations involved in the NADP? In addition, what value does NADP provide to their organization? Representatives from three federal agencies and a tribal organization were asked these questions during interviews at the 2016 Fall Meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A State’s Perspective of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program

Similar to the video above, Andy Johnson of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection shares his view of the benefit of NADP from the perspective of a state agency.

Ammonia Deposition and Agriculture

Dr. Richard Grant, Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, discusses the importance of ammonia in the atmosphere to agriculture. In addition, he talks about atmospheric ammonia as it relates to the NADP, and options to limit ammonia emission from agricultural practices.

History of Acid Precipitation Research in the US: Part 1 – with Dr. Ellis Cowling

Dr. Ellis Cowling, a founding member of the NADP and primary author of the first report that assessed the problem of acid rain, sat down to talk about how he got involved in acid precipitation research and the early history of NADP. Dr. Cowling is a University Distinguished Professor At-Large Emeritus at North Carolina State University. NADP would like to thank Cari Furiness at NC State University for interviewing Dr. Cowling. This is the first of several videos that will result from that interview.

History of Acid Precipitation Research in the US: Part 2 – with Dr. Ellis Cowling

In the second video with Dr. Ellis Cowling, he discusses more about how the NADP came to fruition in the United States in the 1970s. Dr. Cowling is a University Distinguished Professor At-Large Emeritus at North Carolina State University. NADP would like to thank Cari Furiness at NC State University for interviewing Dr. Cowling.

If you missed the keynote address from NADP’s 2016 Fall Meeting and Scientific Symposium (Santa Fe, New Mexico), or if you would like to watch it again, please view the NADP recording of Dr. Dan Wildcat. The address by Dr. Wildcat of Haskell Indian Nations University was well received, and prompted much thoughtful discussion amongst attendees.

The NADP has numerous other videos on the list to produce in the future, including topics like nitrogen deposition, acid rain, and informational videos on the five NADP networks.

Chloride Concentration and Deposition Maps

Figure 1: Precipitation-weighted mean (PWM) chloride concentration in precipitation (in milligrams per liter of precipitation units) for 20151

The NADP measures chloride (Cl-) through the National Trends Network and annually produces chloride concentration and deposition maps. The major chloride source to the lower atmosphere is sea salt spray, which explains most of the spatial pattern shown in both the concentration and deposition chloride maps. Across most of the United States, the higher chloride concentrations are found along the coasts, and inland concentrations are significantly lower (Figure 1). This coastal pattern is also accentuated with the deposition map (i.e., concentration multiplied by precipitation) (Figure 2).

The chloride maps also show the significant and far-reaching inland influence of seawater. This is particularly true along the Gulf of Mexico coast (Texas through Florida), where precipitation with higher chloride extends well inland to these state, and even into Arkansas. This results from dominant summer winds along the Gulf Coast blowing from the ocean toward the north and northeast. It is also observed along the eastern seaboard, from the Northeast through the Mid-Atlantic. Although, there is less of an influence inland due in part to winds that typically blow from the land to the ocean (west to east).

Figure 2: Deposition of chloride ion flowing to the surface in kilograms per hectare over the year for 2015

The Pacific Northwest is also an area of high chloride deposition in precipitation, which is explained by the persistent atmospheric flow from the North Pacific Ocean into Washington, Oregon, and extending into northern California. In particular, chloride deposition rates are very high in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

While the coastal pattern described above is consistent from one year to the next, there are two other areas, not influenced by coastal sea salt, that have consistently high concentrations of chloride. Chloride measurements collected at the northern Utah NTN site (UT09) have much higher concentrations and deposition than other nearby inland sites. The reason is UT09 is very near the Great Salt Lake and the surrounding salt flats of the West. These two areas undoubtedly contribute to the high chloride concentrations observed in precipitation that we see at this particular site.

In addition to Utah, the Rochester and Buffalo (New York) areas also show high chloride concentration and deposition. The source of this chloride has been assumed to be road salt (sodium and calcium chloride, among others) used during winter in these lake-effect snow-dominated urban environments. As the salt dries up and cars drive over the road, wind can re-suspend the salt as particles, which can then be redeposited when washed from the atmosphere by precipitation.” However, some have noted that chloride values in Lake Erie, and by assumption Lake Ontario, are relatively high by Great Lakes standards due to past industrial activity in the Detroit area. Sodium ion and calcium concentrations and depositions in 2015 were also elevated in these areas (Crucil, C., McGee, L., & Hartig, J. H. (1991). Why have Lake Erie Chloride concentrations decreased?. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 16(1), 97-102).

NADP Data Use: Did You Know?

Dr. David Gay, NADP’s Program Coordinator, recently had a conversation with Dr. Pam Wilson, the Solutions and Development Manager for Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc. in North America. He discovered that she and her team are developing new paints and coatings to control oxidation of steel coils primarily used in construction.Currently, the industry standard is to use hexavalent chromium compounds, but Dr. Wilson is attempting to develop less toxic compounds in these primers. Her group needs to better understand corrosion on steel parts, and is using NADP data to try to understand corrosion rates at different locations. Her group is using NADP’s chloride, sulfate, nitrate, pH, and rainfall measurements (maps) to be able to predict the corrosion rate at a particular location, and then recommend the appropriate primer additives to reduce the expected corrosion on the building component. It is another case of “you never know how your data will be used”.

1NADP concentration maps are shown as PWM concentrations, meaning the concentration of high volume precipitation events are weighted more heavily in the average, and low precipitation volume events are only lightly weighted. The PWM result is an average concentration representing a more typical concentration across all precipitation events.

NADP Operator to Swim Across Lake Erie

NY10 site operator and environmental chemist, Dr. Sherri Mason, will take on something this summer that only 17 other people have done – she will swim the 24.3 miles across Lake Erie. In addition to being the NY10 operator for ten years, Dr. Mason’s day-to-day job is a Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences at State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia. NADP took some time to talk to Dr. Mason about the purpose behind her upcoming swim across Lake Erie, as well as her experience as an NADP operator.

Dr. Sherri Mason in front of Lake Erie.

NADP: Thanks for talking with NADP today! To get started, could you please tell me a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Sherri Mason (SM): I am Dr. Sherri Mason – I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I did my undergraduate work in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. After that, I moved to the great north and did my graduate work at the University of Montana in Missoula where I got my PhD in 2001. After that, I moved here [SUNY Fredonia] for the teaching job and apparently I took over the acid rain site 10 years ago! Because I just got a 10-year award in the mail!

NADP: How does being an NADP operator relate to your day-to-day job as a professor at SUNY Fredonia?

SM: Since I was about 10 years old, I have always wanted to be an environmental chemist and, it actually started with acid rain. I was watching a Different Strokes episode – and you can look this up, it’s the “Green Hair” episode and Kimberly is going to some type of dance. Her aunt comes over and says, “Oh you should wash your hair with rainwater – it’s the purest kind of water”. After they do, it turned her hair green. And they bring over a scientist and they ask “Why is her hair green!?” and he says “It’s because of acid rain!”.

Different Strokes screen cap
Screenshot from the different Strokes “Green Hair” episode, which aired on April 1, 1982

I remember watching this show and going “Wow!”. I think I innately knew the science was not necessarily there – but the point that we could have an impact on the environment like that really made an impression on me. I didn’t think it was right that humans could be doing something that creates such an impact on the natural environment – that impacts people beyond ourselves.

I just thought, “That’s not right”, and “I’m going to be a scientist and figure out how to fix that”.

There are not a whole lot of environmental issues that I can say we have great success stories with – the ozone hole is one and I think acid precipitation is another one. I have an ongoing slide that I put together with NADP maps from acid rain monitoring showing the evolution over time. I pull one map from each year and add it to this slide so that you can see the color changes going from red to areas that are now more green. This shows that as we become aware of issues, and as we get the data, and as we sometimes impose regulations, that it can have a profound effect. We can really can work towards lessening our impact through this awareness.

NADP: Your swim across Lake Erie this summer – could you please tell us why you plan to make this swim?

SM: Well it’s for a few different reasons. But we’ll start with the big one.

Plastic pollution found in Lake Erie by Dr. Mason’s team

I am an environmental chemist/scientist and my particular research area is plastic pollution in freshwater systems. In 2004, the United Nations report came out that 80% of the plastic pollution we find in the oceans comes from land, meaning that it’s traveling through the freshwater systems. We were among the first groups in the world and the first in the United States to look for plastic pollution in freshwater systems. I’m conveniently located on the largest freshwater ecosystem in the entire world – so that helped! I started looking for plastic pollution in the Great Lakes and found it, which wasn’t really a terrible surprise.

I’m kind of an atypical environmental scientist – I don’t want to just do lab work. The whole point of what I do is to raise awareness, educate people and create change.

This past summer, we took part in the largest ever mass sampling event in Great Lakes history – where all five of the Great Lakes were sampled for plastic pollution on the same day. It started this initiative called “Love Your Greats”. One goal of this group is to do something every summer to raise awareness for issues that face the Great Lakes.

Dr. Sherri Mason with a plastic pollution sample from Lake Erie.

One morning last year, I was camping with some friends along Lake Erie. I went down to the lake at about 6 o’clock in the morning and the lake was like glass – it was so calm and so breathtakingly beautiful. I started thinking about what we are going to do next summer to raise awareness about the Great Lakes. And I thought, “You know, I’m going to swim across Lake Erie!” (seemed like such a good idea at the time…).

So that’s where it started – wanting to raise awareness but in an engaged way about plastic pollution.

The other aspects of it is that we all have our bucket list of goals and oddly enough, doing something like this was on my bucket list.

Also, it’s not only a physical fitness goal of mine, but also a mental. I have a tendency to take on more than I can chew and I really get myself stressed out. I want to learn how to be more like water. Water is amazing – it flows so easily, so effortlessly, so naturally – and yet it is so powerful that it can cut the Grand Canyon. So learning how to be like that – how to flow and not stress – but powerful and own my strengths, but in a very natural and easy-going way.

Dr Mason

NADP: What is the date of your swim?

SM: We can’t specify a date because it’s very weather dependent. We want a date where the water is like what I saw it on that first day – where it’s like glass so that I’m not trying to battle 10-foot waves.

You want the temperature to be warm enough. One of the rules I have to abide by since it is a “sanctioned swim” is that I can’t wear anything that provides any kind of buoyancy, so no wet suits – I’ll be in a store-bought bathing suit. So, you want the water to be warm!

For Lake Erie, the best time of year is typically the last week in July or the first week in August – so that’s our two-week window. We will start with the week of July 24th and hope that we find a really good day in there in which the conditions are expected to be good. And if that doesn’t work out, then our fall back week is the week of July 31st.

We’ll look for the best weather, so it becomes “Today’s the day!”…and we go!

NADP: Do you have an idea of how long you anticipate the swim (24.3 miles) taking?

SM: My current estimate is 15 hours, based upon my swims to date and typical pace. Although, I think the most I’ve swam to date is five miles but this is the time period where I start to build up my distance.

NADP: What kind of training have you been doing for this swim?

SM: I’m doing a lot of laps – I swim 5,000 yards every morning right now. But, in addition to that, it’s largely cross-training. I started doing CrossFit, which is total body weights.

I have a physical trainer that works with me to make sure that as I’m developing my muscles, that I’m developing them properly and in a healthful, engaged way. You’re working certain muscles a lot but you want to make sure that you find the balance to that so that you’re not just building up one set of muscles and the others are atrophied. You have to make sure you are creating a balance.

So a lot of cross-training, a lot of focused strength training on specific muscle groups, a lot of core training and laps – a lot of laps.

NADP: Finally, do you have any interesting NADP operator stories to share – anything weird, cool, or fun that you have experienced your 10 years?

NADP NY10 site (photo courtesy of Dr. Sherri Mason)

SM: I love going out to the site because it’s remote. I live in rural western New York anyway, but it’s even more remote. I get up on the platform – the site is on a deck to get away from the snow – and you just get a nice perspective.

But, I typically get my car trapped out there somehow once a year. We get a lot of snow so we have to hike to the site and one time, I pulled over to the side of the road and went too far – and I went into the ditch like sideways.

Another time after the snow melted, I got my car stuck in the mud and had to get towed out.

So once a year, I’m inevitably calling a tow truck to get me out. They must think, “Oh ya, Dr. Mason is in the acid rain site again”. It’s a small town, they get used to hearing from me.

To support Dr. Sherri Mason in her swim across Lake Erie, please visit her GoFundMe page.

Summary of the 2016 NADP Scientific Symposium

Marty Risch (left), former chair of the NADP Executive Committee, passing the gavel to Donna Schwede, the new chair of the Executive Committee.

The annual NADP scientific symposium and technical committee meeting was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico from October 31 – November 4, 2016. The theme of the meeting was
Atmospheric Deposition – What Does the Future Hold. Scientists shared their current research on a wide variety of topics including critical loads of atmospheric deposition, atmospheric mercury deposition and cycling in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, deposition and critical load estimates in tribal areas, atmospheric deposition modeling, measurement-model fusion techniques, atmospheric deposition measurements, influence of climate change on deposition, and urban atmospheric deposition. A special joint session on connections between visibility and atmospheric deposition was held with scientists from the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network. The meeting was organized by Donna Schwede, a physical scientist with EPA’s Office of Research and Development and current chair of the NADP Executive Committee.

Given the location of the meeting, Schwede felt that emphasizing the needs of tribal communities to understand deposition was important. To help highlight this connection, she invited Dr. Dan Wildcat, Director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Center and Indigenous & American Indian Studies faculty member at Haskell Indian Nations University, to give the keynote address. Dr. Wildcat gave an inspirational presentation titled "Atmospheric Deposition Research through an Indigenous Lens or Understanding the Natural LAW: Land, Air and Water." He advocated embracing indigenous thinking to solve environmental problems since it already acknowledges the interconnectedness of nature. Dr. Wildcat encouraged the scientists to recruit indigenous students and to embrace their tribal philosophies. He emphasized that we have a responsibility to treat nature not as a resource, but as a relative to be respected. NADP videotaped Dr. Wildcat’s presentation and it can be found on the NADP website.

Dr. Daniel Wildcat of Haskell Environmental Research Studies, the keynote speaker for the fall meeting.
Dr. Daniel Wildcat of Haskell Environmental Research Studies, the keynote speaker for the fall meeting.

A special effort was made this year to try to promote student participation in the symposium. NADP was able to waive the registration fee for students. Additionally, a $500 award for the Outstanding Student Oral Presentation was given to Steve Decina from Boston University. Steve’s presentation was on “Variation and drivers of nitrogen deposition, cycling, and loss throughout an urban metropolitan area”. Jessica Zaiss from the University of Southern California was awarded a $500 prize for the Outstanding Student Poster Presentation. Her poster was titled “Using deuterium excess to track annual and interannual contribution of tropical moisture to the west coast of the United States”. All of the students did an excellent job and NADP will make similar awards at future symposia.

The NADP group getting a tour of the Bandelier National Monument NADP and IMPROVE sites.

The symposium ended with an interesting field trip to Bandelier National Monument where the group had an overview and tour of the NADP and IMPROVE sites from Kay Beeley (National Park Service) and the Department of Energy (DOE) sites from Don Carlson (DOE). After the tours, field trip participants had the opportunity to take a short hike at Bandelier. Pictures from the field trip are posted on the NADP Facebook page.

Overall, the meeting was very successful, with many interesting discussions about the science presented, new ideas for the program to consider, and a generally enjoyable time. Santa Fe was a lovely location to have a meeting, and most attendees took advantage of visiting local surroundings. The historic nature of the hotel was a nice addition to an all-around successful meeting.

More information about the 2016 National Atmospheric Deposition Program scientific symposium, including all abstracts and many of the presentations, are available on the conference web page on the NADP web site. The 2017 Fall NADP meeting will be in San Diego, California from October 30-November 3, 2017 and all are invited to attend.

Recent Publications

A listing of recent journal publications that have used NADP data, all of which have used the National Trends Network (NTN). An online database that lists citations using NADP data, including a full list from 2016, is available on the NADP Web site.

Abbaspour, A., Tanyu, B. F., & Cetin, B., 2016. Impact of aging on leaching characteristics of recycled concrete aggregate. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 23(20): 20835–20852.

Fakhraei, H., Driscoll, C. T., Renfro, J. R., Kulp, M. A., Blett, T. F., Brewer, P. F., & Schwartz, J. S., 2016. Critical loads and exceedances for nitrogen and sulfur atmospheric deposition in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, United States. Ecosphere 7(10) Article e01466.

Malley, C. S., Heal, M. R., & Braban, C. F., 2016. Insights from a chronology of the development of atmospheric composition monitoring networks since the 1800s. Atmosphere 7(12): 160.

McConnell, J. R., Shenton III, H. W., & Mertz, D. R., 2016. Performance of uncoated weathering steel bridge inventories: methodology and Gulf Coast region evaluation. Journal of Bridge Engineering 21(12): 04016087.
doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)BE.1943-5592.0000948

Michelena, T. M., Farrell, J. L., Winkler, D. A., Goodrich, C. A., Boylen, C. W., Sutherland, J. W., & Nierzwicki-Bauer, S. A., 2016. Aluminum toxicity risk reduction as a result of reduced acid deposition in Adirondack lakes and ponds. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 188(11): 636.

Miller, M. P., Boyer, E. W., McKnight, D. M., Brown, M. G., Gabor, R. S., Hunsaker, C. T., ... & Lin, H., 2016. Variation of organic matter quantity and quality in streams at Critical Zone Observatory watersheds. Water Resources Research 52(10): 8202–8216.

Prasad, R., & Hochmuth, G. J., 2016. Environmental nitrogen losses from commercial crop production systems in the Suwannee River Basin of Florida. PloS one 11(12): e0167558.

Reis, S., Bekunda, M., Howard, C. M., Karanja, N., Winiwarter, W., Yan, X., ... & Sutton, M. A., 2016. Synthesis and review: tackling the nitrogen management challenge: from global to local scales. Environmental Research Letters 11(12): 120205.

Stackpoole, S. M., Stets, E. G., Clow, D. W., Burns, D. A., Aiken, G. R., Aulenbach, B. T., ... & Striegl, R. G., 2016. Spatial and temporal patterns of dissolved organic matter quantity and quality in the Mississippi River Basin, 1997–2013. Hydrological Processes 11 December 2016: 1–14,

Winton, R. S., Moorman, M., & Richardson, C. J., 2016. Waterfowl impoundments as sources of nitrogen pollution. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 227(10): 390.