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Long term monitoring of the chemical composition of precipitation and wet deposition fluxes over three Sahelian savannas

Abstract : The purpose of this study is to analyze a long term database of the chemical composition of precipitation at three African dry savanna sites in the Sahel. The precipitation samples were collected during the monsoon season at Agoufou (15°20′N, 01°29′W, Mali) from 2004 to 2006, Banizoumbou (13°31′N, 02°38′E, Niger) from 1994 to 2009 and Katibougou (12°56′N, 07°32′ W, Mali) from 1997 to 2008. pH and major inorganic and organic ions in precipitation were analyzed by ionic chromatography. A characterization of mean precipitation chemistry with the associated wet deposition fluxes for each species is presented. The first important result is that interannual variability of all volume-weighted mean (VWM) concentrations is low, ranging between ±5% and ±25%. Acidity in dry savannas is low and indicates the strong alkaline nature of the precipitation. The average annual pH at Agoufou is 6.28, 5.75 at Banizoumbou and 5.54 at Katibougou. This result is correlated with the important terrigenous contribution measured in the chemical content of precipitation, implying acidity neutralization by mineral species such as Ca2+ and NH4+. Mg2+ and K+ are found to play a minor role in neutralization. Enrichment factor calculations for Ca2+, SO42−, K+ and Mg2+ with respect to the sea reference reveal a significant influence of Saharan and Sahelian crustal sources. VWM concentrations of these species dominate the composition of measured precipitation. An estimation of the potential particulate and gas contribution to the total precipitation composition is given for each site: At Agoufou, the mean relative contribution in rainwater is 80% for particles and 20% for gases, while at the Banizoumbou and Katibougou sites, results indicate 70% for particles and 30% for gases. The high particulate phase contribution to precipitation emphasizes the importance of multiphase processes between gases and particles in the atmospheric chemistry typical of African semi-arid savanna ecosystems. The second highest contribution is nitrogenous, with high VWM concentrations of NO3− and NH4+ measured at the three sites. Monthly evolution of NO3− and NH4+ concentrations are studied in relation to gaseous emission sources in the Sahelian region, i.e. biogenic soil emission and ammonia sources from animals. The calculated wet nitrogen deposition flux presents a regular increase throughout the wet season at the three sites. Results suggest total mean nitrogen deposition fluxes of 1.80 kg N ha−1 yr−1 at Agoufou, 2.10 kg N ha−1 yr−1 at Banizoumbou, and 3.30 kg N ha−1 yr−1 at Katibougou. The marine contribution is lower, 23% at Agoufou, 17% at Banizoumbou and 13% at Katibougou. The last contribution concerns organic acidity, which ranges from 5% at Agoufou, 10% at Banizoumbou to 14% at Katibougou. Terrigenous and marine contributions present a negative gradient, whereas nitrogenous and organic contributions a positive gradient along the Sahelian transect defined by Agoufou-Banizoumbou-Katibougou.
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Dungall Laouali, Corinne Galy-Lacaux, Babakar Diop, Claire Delon, Didier Orange, et al.. Long term monitoring of the chemical composition of precipitation and wet deposition fluxes over three Sahelian savannas. Atmospheric environment, Elsevier, 2012, 50, pp.314-327. ⟨10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.12.004⟩. ⟨hal-00766827⟩

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