Navigation Links
Air monitoring helps anticipate possible ecosystem changes
Date:6/25/2008

AMARILLO When rain settles the atmosphere and brings air pollutants to the ground, it can have a lasting effect on ecosystems, sometimes hundreds of miles away, according to a Texas AgriLife Research agricultural engineer.

Dr. Brent Auvermann, research engineer and Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist in Amarillo, is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to see what is settling from the skies above the Panhandle.

"The question we're trying to help answer is, are we altering ecosystems by dumping pollutants into the atmosphere that will come out in the form of wet or dry deposition?" Auvermann said.

"We have intensive agriculture of all forms and we'd like to know if the specific dominant land uses are contributing nutrients to ecosystems," he said.

Auvermann explained that all ecosystems receive some atmospheric inputs, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. The plant and animal life dominant to that region thrives because it has adapted to a particular rate of those nutrients.

When the nutrient load changes, it can change the competitive ability of a species and allow different ones to thrive where they once were not competitive, he said. The effects extend from major animal life such as deer down to the smallest bacteria.

For instance, scientists know that the Rocky Mountain National Park has been home to wildflowers for many years, Auvermann said. But evidence from the last 20 years suggests that the ecosystem seems to be changing. The wildflowers are gradually being replaced by grasses and sedges.

"I don't know anyone who drives all the way to Estes Park to take pictures of sedges," he said.

Another change the Colorado scientists are noticing is acidification of the normally alkaline soils on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, Auvermann said. This can lead to changes in the surface water and streams.

"Scientists believe the emissions from around eastern Colorado and the bordering states have resulted in detectable changes in the high alpine ecosystems," he said.

Auvermann joined a network of scientists monitoring such emissions about a year ago when his research team set up a monitoring site southeast of Canyon with wet and dry deposition measuring equipment. Deposition is the process in which particles or gases in the air settle to the ground, vegetation or water surfaces.

The wet deposition measurements are made as a part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, he said. The wet proportion is that which happens as a result of precipitation and its scrubbing effect.

Dry deposition, measured as a part of the Clean Air Status and Trends Network, is all the other particles and gases that happen to settle out of the air, he said.

While they are two separate projects, by measuring both in the same location, Auvermann said scientists can measure the total deposition.

Both sets of equipment are filling a void in the organizations' nationwide networks, he said. The closest wet deposition measurements are being made at Muleshoe and Goodwell, Okla. The nearest dry deposition equipment is even farther away, in Big Bend National Park. The Canonceta site sits about midway between the sites at Muleshoe and Goodwell.

"We're looking for long-term trends and whether they are increasing or decreasing," Auvermann said. "Wet deposition increases in wet years and decreases during a drought, so we have to take a longer-term view."

The site located along the rim of Ceta Canyon is free from influence of any single source of air pollution, he said. The wet measurements can include ammonia, nitrate, calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and the acidity of rain or snow.

The major nutrients of concern are nitrogen and sulfur, Auvermann said. Based on the first year of monitoring data, the total deposition of inorganic nitrogen ammonia plus nitrate is between 3.5 or 4.5 pounds of nitrogen per acre per year.

"Compared to how much nitrogen we put on irrigated grain crops, it's not much, obviously," he said. "But on nutrient-poor rangeland, who knows?

"We don't know what an undisturbed background level would be in this region of the state," Auvermann said. "We can't really say without more information if a certain amount of deposition is good or bad. Right now we are getting the baseline and looking at how it relates to the surrounding sites that have been monitoring deposition for a lot longer than we have."

Auvermann is especially excited about using the Canonceta site as a living laboratory for science students from middle school to college.

"This kind of environmental monitoring is where it all comes together: meteorology, chemistry, physics, biology and ecology," he said. "It's all here."


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Brent Auvermann
bauverma@ag.tamu.edu
806-677-5600
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Genes, Environment and Health Initiative invests in genetic studies, environmental monitoring
2. Mellon awards Carnegie Grant for Ecological Monitoring in South Africa
3. Woods Hole Research Center debuts new image mosaic that will strengthen global forest monitoring
4. Photo-monitoring whale sharks
5. Biomonitoring
6. New gas sensors for monitoring carbon dioxide sinks
7. Revolution in rain forest monitoring with MacArthur grant
8. UCLA researchers develop new PET scanning probe that will allowing monitoring of the immune system
9. More sensitive radiology monitoring in the Basque Country
10. Natural chemical found in broccoli helps combat skin blistering disease
11. Device helps patients survive, regain function til transplant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Air monitoring helps anticipate possible ecosystem changes
(Date:12/16/2016)... 2016 The global wearable medical device market, in terms ... from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 18.0% ... ... advancements in medical devices, launch of a growing number of smartphone-based ... among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on physical fitness. ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... , Dec. 15, 2016 ... driving experience, health wellness and wellbeing (HWW), ... one in three new passenger vehicles begin ... recognition, gesture recognition, heart beat monitoring, brain ... monitoring, facial monitoring, and pulse detection. These ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 Market Research Future published ... Market. The global Mobile Biometric Security and Service Market is expected ... to 2022. Market Highlights: ... , , Mobile Biometric ... due to the increasing need of authentication and security from unwanted ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... and Markets ... addition of the "Implantable Biomaterials Market Analysis & ... to their offering. Report Highlights: ... current and future market trends to identify the investment opportunities ... numbers Key market trends across the business segments, Regions ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Mass. , Jan. 19, 2017 AquaBounty ... focused on enhancing productivity in aquaculture and a majority-owned ... announces that it has completed the listing of its ... the equity subscription from Intrexon. "AquaBounty,s listing ... that will broaden our exposure to the U.S. markets ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... 18, 2017 The global biotechnology services ... billion by 2025, according to a new report ... been adaptive of the function of outsourcing certain ... Among the services outsourced, clinical trial management and ... & Johnson was the first pharmaceutical company to ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... , January 18, 2017 According to a new ... Diagnosis, Neuroscience, Cytology, Infectious Disease), & End User (Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories, Academic and ... expected to reach USD 739.9 Million by 2021 from USD 557.1 Million in ... Reading ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
Breaking Biology Technology: