Good Agreement Between Modeled and Measured Sulfur and Nitrogen Deposition in Europe, in Spite of Marked Differences in Some Sites
Atmospheric nitrogen and sulfur deposition is an important effect of atmospheric pollution and may affect forest ecosystems positively, for example enhancing tree growth, or negatively, for example causing acidification, eutrophication, cation depletion in soil or nutritional imbalances in trees. To assess and design measures to reduce the negative impacts of deposition, a good estimate of the deposition amount is needed, either by direct measurement or by modeling.
In order to evaluate the precision of both approaches and to identify possible improvements, we compared the deposition estimates obtained using an Eulerian model with the measurements performed by two large independent networks covering most of Europe. The results are in good agreement (bias <25%) for sulfate and nitrate open field deposition, while larger differences are more evident for ammonium deposition, likely due to the greater influence of local ammonia sources. Modeled sulfur total deposition compares well with throughfall deposition measured in forest plots, while the estimate of nitrogen deposition is affected by the tree canopy. The geographical distribution of pollutant deposition and of outlier sites where model and measurements show larger differences are discussed.