Seasonal snowpack chemistry data from the Rocky Mountain region of the US was examined to identify long-term trends in concentration and chemical deposition in snow and in snow-water equivalent. For the period 1993-2004, comparisons of trends were made between 54 Rocky Mountain Snowpack sites and 16 National Atmospheric Deposition Program wetfall sites located nearby in the region. The region was divided into three subregions: Northern, Central, and Southern. A non-parametric correlation method known as the Regional Kendall Test was used. This technique collectively computed the slope, direction, and probability of trend for several sites at once in each of the Northern, Central, and Southern Rockies subregions. Seasonal Kendall tests were used to evaluate trends at individual sites. Significant trends occurred during the period in wetfall and snowpack concentrations and deposition, and in precipitation. For the comparison, trends in concentrations of ammonium, nitrate, and sulfate for the two networks were in fair agreement. In several cases, increases in ammonium and nitrate concentrations, and decreases in sulfate concentrations for both wetfall and snowpack were consistent in the three subregions. However, deposition patterns between wetfall and snowpack more often were opposite, particularly for ammonium and nitrate. Decreases in ammonium and nitrate deposition in wetfall in the central and southern rockies subregions mostly were moderately significant (p<0.11) in constrast to highly significant increases in snowpack (p<0.02). These opposite trends likely are explained by different rates of declining precipitation during the recent drought (1999-2004) and increasing concentration. Furthermore, dry deposition was an important factor in total deposition of nitrogen in the region. Sulfate deposition decreased with moderate to high significance in all three subregions in both wetfall and snowpack. Precipitation trends consistently were downward and significant for wetfall, snowpack, and snow-telemetry data for the central and southern rockies subregions (p<0.03), while no trends were noted for the Northern Rockies subregion.
Additional publication details
Trends in snowpack chemistry and comparison to National Atmospheric Deposition Program results for the Rocky Mountains, US, 1993-2004