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Volume 7, Pages 206-221
Short Communication

Air Pollution and Watershed Research in the Central Sierra Nevada of California: Nitrogen and Ozone

1USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Sierra Nevada Research Center, 2081 E. Sierra Avenue, Fresno, CA 93710, USA
2USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Fire Laboratory, 4955 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, CA 92507, USA
3USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, 1600 Tollhouse Rd., Clovis, CA 93611, USA

Received 3 October 2006; Revised 12 February 2007; Accepted 16 February 2007

Academic Editor: Mark Fenn

Copyright © 2007 Carolyn Hunsaker et al.


Maintaining healthy forests is the major objective for the Forest Service scientists and managers working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Air pollution, specifically ozone (O3) and nitrogenous (N) air pollutants, may severely affect the health of forest ecosystems in the western U.S. Thus, the monitoring of air pollution concentration and deposition levels, as well as studies focused on understanding effects mechanisms, are essential for evaluation of risks associated with their presence. Such information is essential for development of proper management strategies for maintaining clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems on land managed by the Forest Service. We report on two years of research in the central Sierra Nevada of California, a semi-arid forest at elevations of 1100–2700 m. Information on O3 and N air pollutants is obtained from a network of 18 passive samplers. We relate the atmospheric N concentration to N concentrations in streams, shallow soil water, and bulk deposition collectors within the Kings River Experimental Watershed. This watershed also contains an intensive site that is part of a recent Forest Service effort to calculate critical loads for N, sulfur, and acidity to forest ecosystems. The passive sampler design allows for extensive spatial measurements while the watershed experiment provides intensive spatial data for future analysis of ecosystem processes.