US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Environ Monit Assess (2012) 184:913–928. DOI:10.1007/s10661-011-2009-7


High-elevation regions in the United States lack detailed atmospheric wet-deposition data. The National Atmospheric Deposition Program/ National Trends Network (NADP/NTN) measures and reports precipitation amounts and chemical constituent concentration and deposition data for the United States on annual isopleth maps using inverse distance weighted (IDW) interpolation methods. This interpolation for unsampled areas does not account for topographic influences. Therefore, NADP/NTN isopleth maps lack detail and potentially underestimate wet deposition in high-elevation regions. The NADP/NTN wet-deposition maps may be improved using precipitation grids generated by other networks. The Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) produces digital grids of precipitation estimates from many precipitation-monitoring networks and incorporates influences of topographical and geographical features. Because NADP/NTN ion concentrations do not vary with elevation as much as precipitation depths, PRISM is used with unadjusted NADP/NTN data in this paper to calculate ion wet deposition in complex terrain to yield more accurate and detailed isopleth deposition maps in complex terrain. PRISM precipitation estimates generally exceed NADP/NTN precipitation estimates for coastal and mountainous regions in the western United States. NADP/NTN precipitation estimates generally exceed PRISM precipitation estimates for leeward mountainous regions in Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, where abrupt changes in precipitation depths induced by topography are not depicted by IDW interpolation. PRISM-based deposition estimates for nitrate can exceed NADP/NTN estimates by more than 100% for mountainous regions in the western United States.