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A junior majoring in chemistry with a minor in mathematics, Christina McCluskey came to CMMAP this summer from Coastal Carolina University. She worked under Professor Jeff Collett and research scientist Katie Beem investigating the presence of reactive nitrogen in fine and coarse aerosol in samples taken from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Writes Christina, nitrogen deposition is an aspect of the nitrogen cycle, which is vital for an ecosystem to function. Perturbation of this cycle can lead to a series of problems, including acidification of soils and nitrogen saturation of vegetation. Christina's study measured inorganic and organic nitrogen in samples from the Rocky Mountain Airborne Nitrogen and Sulfer (RoMANS) study, taken from April to November of 2009. The Station Fire in California smoke period was also examined for the impacts distant fires have on the nitrogen characteristics of fine and coarse aerosols.

Her study showed fine and coarse aerosols to have similar organic nitrogen contribution to the total amount of nitrogen (TN). It was found that the important contributors to TN in fine and coarse aerosol are ammonium sulfate and sodium nitrate, respectively. The coarse aerosol measurements suggested average temperature affects the amount of organic nitrogen and nitrate concentrations. The Station Fire results showed an increase in the total abundance of nitrogen in fine aerosol during the smoke period. Also, the aerosols affected by the smoke were more heavily enriched with organic nitrogen. However, the coarse aerosol concentrations of total nitrogen were below detection level. The information provided from Christina's study contributes to the small database that currently exists which can attribute to better understanding of the deposition of nitrogen.

Christina is interested in atmospheric chemistry, specifically air quality, and in global climate change. She likes hiking, camping, bike rides, kayaking, going to the beach, reading, music and just having fun.

Christina's research poster, The Presence of Reactive Nitrogen in Fine and Coarse Aerosol, is here (3MB PDF).

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