Seasonal trends of dry and bulk concentration of nitrogen compounds over a rain forest in Ghana
Abstract. African tropical forests of the equatorial belt might receive significant input of extra nitrogen derived from biomass burning occurring in the north savanna belt and transported equatorward by northeastern winds. In order to test this hypothesis an experiment was set up in a tropical rain forest in the Ankasa Game Reserve and Nini-Suhien National Park (Ghana) aimed at quantifying magnitude and seasonal variability of concentrations of N compounds, present as gas and aerosol (dry nitrogen) or in the rainfall (bulk nitrogen), over the studied forest; and relating their seasonal variability to trends of local and regional winds and rainfall and to variations of fire events in the region. Three DELTA systems, implemented for monthly measurements of NO2, were mounted over a tower at 45 m height, 20 m above forest canopy to sample gas (NH3, NO2, HNO3, HCl, SO2) and aerosol (NH4+, NO3−, and several ions), together with three tanks for bulk rainfall collection (to analyze NH4+, NO3− and ion concentration). The tower was provided with a sonic anemometer to estimate local wind data. The experiment started in October 2011 and data up to October 2012 are presented. To interpret the observed seasonal trends of measured compounds, local and regional meteo data and regional satellite fire data were analyzed. The concentration of N compounds significantly increased from December to April, during the drier period, peaking from December to February when NE winds (the Harmattan) were moving dry air masses over the west-central African region, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) was at its minimum latitude over the Equator. This period also coincided with fire peaks in the whole region. On the contrary, N concentration in gas, aerosol and rain decreased from May to October when prevalent winds arrived from the sea (southeast), during the monsoon period. Both ionic compositions of rain and analysis of local wind direction showed a significant and continuous presence of see breeze at site. The ionic composition of rainwater resulted much closer to seawater and poorer in N compounds from May to October.