Chiricahua National Monument has an air quality monitoring station that studies visibility and ozone (O3), nitrogen (N) sulfur (S), and ammonia (NH3) concentrations. Every week we collect the data and send the information to associated organizations. Monitoring this data allows the park a better understanding of the air quality conditions.
The nitrogen and sulfur in the air are monitored by CASNET (Clear Air Status and Trends Network) and their concentrations in precipitation by NADP (National Atmospheric Deposition Program). These compounds can have harmful effects on soils and water resources. Ozone is also monitored by CASNET. It is a colorless gas that is harmless when found in the air but at ground level, it can have negative effects on human health and the environment. On the other hand, ammonia is also monitored by NADP. It comes from a variety of biological resources, industrial and combustion processes. When it’s transported in the air it contributes to haze and when deposited can lead to acidification and loss of biodiversity in the environment. Finally, visibility is monitored by IMPROVE (The Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments). It is dependent on the concentration of tiny particles in the air that go in all directions and absorb light thus limiting how far and clearly one can see. The air quality station is yet another great learning experience I’ve had this summer.