Why do we care about atmospheric chemistry and precipitation chemistry?
The atmosphere contains a combination of gases and particles that are emitted as a result of natural processes and human activities on earth and that form from chemical reactions that take place in the atmosphere. Some of the gases, such as oxygen, are critical to humans and other life on earth, while some chemicals, such as sulfur dioxide or ammonia, are harmful to breathe. When it rains or snows, most of these airborne chemicals are dissolved and washed out with the precipitation and come back to the earth in the form of wet atmospheric deposition to land and water. Some of the chemicals in precipitation can be beneficial — nutrients such as magnesium or potassium, for instance. Some compounds can cause harmful effects either because of the type or amount deposited, such as hydrogen, sulfate, and nitrate formed when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide dissolve in water, which can make soils and water bodies acidic. Another example is ammonium formed when ammonia dissolves in precipitation, which sometimes helps food crops grow but also can cause nutrient enrichment and algal blooms in coastal waters. Measuring the chemistry of precipitation is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to monitor the chemistry of the atmosphere, which includes the emissions from human activities, and to estimate the inputs from the atmosphere to the lands and waters of earth.
What is the North Carolina Atmospheric Chemistry Consortium?
The North Carolina Atmospheric Chemistry Consortium (NCACC) is a collaboration of individuals and organizations that care about measuring the chemistry of wet deposition. The mission of the NCACC is to provide long-term data and information on geographic patterns and temporal trends of acids, nutrients, and base cations in precipitation in North Carolina by supporting the participation of monitoring sites in North Carolina in the National Atmospheric Deposition Program National Trends Network (NADP NTN). The long-term data collected by NADP NTN are critical to support cross-disciplinary research and education in atmospheric chemistry, climate change, water and carbon/nutrient cycling, agriculture, ecosystems, and natural resources and to underpin environmental management and policy decisions.
The NCACC is administered in the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University and contributes to the public service mission of NCSU. The framework of the Consortium provides a means for stakeholders to join the NCACC according to an annual membership dues structure. The pooled membership dues are used to support the continuation of the long-term data record accumulated at NADP NTN sites in North Carolina.
Who should be a part of the North Carolina Atmospheric Chemistry Consortium?
The data collected by the National Trends Network are publicly available, so participation in the NCACC supports a common good —information about the chemical climate in North Carolina. The longevity of the NADP NTN data record, which started in 1978, and its consistent data quality assurance make the NTN data a uniquely valuable resource. The data are extensively used by scientists, educators, students, policymakers, and the public in North Carolina, the US, and abroad. Stakeholders in the deposition data and potential members of the NCACC include: state and federal agencies, industry, research organizations, agricultural commodity groups, universities, and environmental organizations.