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Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (6): 810-822    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0071-x
Orginal Article     
Atmospheric deposition of inorganic nitrogen in a semi-arid grassland of Inner Mongolia, China
Yibo ZHANG1, Wen XU2, Zhang WEN1, Dandan WANG1, Tianxiang HAO1, Aohan TANG1, Xuejun LIU1,*()
1 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
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Due to increasing global demand for crop production and energy use, more and more reactive nitrogen (Nr) has been generated and emitted to the environment. As a result, global atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has tripled since the industrial revolution and the ecological environment and human health have been harmed. In this study, we measured dry and wet/bulk N deposition from July 2013 to December 2015 in a semi-arid grassland of Duolun County, Inner Mongolia, China. The samples of dry and wet/bulk N deposition were collected monthly with a DELTA (DEnuder for Long Term Atmospheric sampling) system and with Gradko passive samplers and a precipitation gauge. The measured results show that the annual mean concentrations of NH3, NO2, HNO3, particulate NH4+ (pNH4+) and particulate NO3- (pNO3-) in atmosphere were 2.33, 1.90, 0.18, 1.42 and 0.42 μg N/m3, respectively, and that the annual mean volume-weighted concentrations of NH4+-N and NO3--N in precipitation were 2.71 and 1.99 mg N/L, respectively. The concentrations of Nr components (including NH3, NO2, HNO3, pNH4+, pNO3-, NH4+-N and NO3--N) exhibited different seasonal variations. Specifically, NO2 and HNO3 exhibited higher concentrations in autumn than in summer, while the other Nr components (NH3, pNH4+, pNO3-, NH4+-N and NO3--N) showed the highest values in summer. Based on measured concentrations of Nr components and their deposition velocities estimated using the GEOS-Chem global atmospheric chemical transport model, the calculated annual mean dry deposition fluxes were 3.17, 1.13, 0.63, 0.91 and 0.36 kg N/(hm2?a) for NH3, NO2, HNO3, pNH4+ and pNO3-, respectively, and the calculated annual mean wet/bulk deposition fluxes were 5.37 and 3.15 kg N/(hm2?a) for NH4+-N and NO3--N, respectively. The estimated annual N deposition (including dry N deposition and wet/bulk N deposition) reached 14.7 kg N/(hm2?a) in grassland of Duolun County, approaching to the upper limit of the N critical load (10-15 kg N/(hm2?a)). Dry and wet/bulk deposition fluxes of all Nr components (with an exception of HNO3) showed similar seasonal variations with the maximum deposition flux in summer and the minimum in winter. Reduced Nr components (e.g., gaseous NH3 and pNH4+ in atmosphere and NH4+-N in precipitation) dominated the total N deposition at the sampling site (accounted for 64% of the total N deposition), suggesting that the deposited atmospheric Nr mainly originated from agricultural activities. Considering the projected future increases in crop and livestock production in Inner Mongolia, the ecological and human risks to the negative effects of increased N deposition could be increased if no mitigation measures are taken.

Key wordsatmospheric reactive nitrogen      dry deposition      wet/bulk deposition      reduced nitrogen      grassland ecosystem      Inner Mongolia     
Received: 20 April 2017      Published: 20 December 2017
Corresponding Authors: Xuejun LIU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Yibo ZHANG, Wen XU, Zhang WEN, Dandan WANG, Tianxiang HAO, Aohan TANG, Xuejun LIU. Atmospheric deposition of inorganic nitrogen in a semi-arid grassland of Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(6): 810-822.

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