Does Nitrate Deposition Following Astrophysical Ionizing Radiation Events

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Thomas, Brian C. and Honeyman, Michelle D.
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As diversity in amphibian species declines, the search for causes has intensified. Work in this area has shown that amphibians are especially susceptible to the combination of heightened UVB radiation and increased nitrate concentrations. Various astrophysical events have been suggested as sources of ionizing radiation that could pose a threat to life on Earth, through destruction of the ozone layer and subsequent increase in UVB, followed by deposition of nitrate. In this study, we investigate whether the nitrate deposition following an ionizing event is sufficiently large to cause an additional stress beyond that of the heightened UVB previously considered. We have converted predicted nitrate depositions to concentration values, utilizing data from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acid Rain Monitoring Network web site. Our results show that the increase in nitrate concentration in bodies of water following the most intense ionization event likely in the last billion years would not be sufficient to cause a serious additional stress on amphibian populations and may actually provide some benefit by acting as fertilizer.