Distribution and variability of precipitation chemistry in the conterminous United States, January through December 1983

Open-File Report 87-558




Analysis of atmospheric precipitation samples, collected during the 1983 calendar year from 109 National Trends Network sites in the United States, are presented in this report. The sites were grouped into six geographical regions based on the chemical composition of the samples. Precipitation chemistry in these regions was influenced by proximity to (1) oceans, (2) major industrial and fossil-fuel consuming areas, and (3) major agricultural and livestock areas. Frequency distributions of ionic composition, determined on 10 chemical constituents and on precipitation quantities for each site, showed wide variations in chemical concentrations and precipitation quantities from site to site. Of the 109 sites, 55 had data coverage for the year sufficient to characterize precipitation quality patterns on a nationwide basis. Except for ammonium and calcium, both of which showed largest concentrations in the agricultural midwest and plains states, the largest concentrations and loads generally were in areas that include the heavily industrialized population center of the eastern United States. Except for hydrogen, all chemical ions are inversely related to the quantity of precipitation depth. Precipitation quantities generally account for less than 30% of chemical variation in precipitation samples. However, precipitation quantities account for 30 to 65% of the variations of calcium concentrations in precipitation. In regions where precipitation has a large ionic proportion of hydrogen-ion equivalents, much of the hydrogen-ion concentration could be balanced by sulfate equivalents and partly balanced by nitrite-plus-nitrate equivalents. In the regions where hydrogen-ion equivalents in precipitation were smaller, ammonion-and calcium-ion equivalents were necessary, along with the hydrogen-ion equivalents, to balance the sulfate plus nitrite-plus-nitrate equivalent. (USGS)

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Distribution and variability of precipitation chemistry in the conterminous United States, January through December 1983
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
vii, 241 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.