For more information about National Park Service air resources, please visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/.


Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Cumberland Piedmont Network

Studies and Monitoring

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park (NP), Kentucky, has its own unique environmental concerns based on its particular ecology. Air quality studies and monitoring programs at Mammoth Cave NP focus on ozone and the deposition of nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury. Click on the tabs below to review air quality studies and key scientific references at Mammoth Cave NP, as well as to access information on air quality monitoring in the park.

  • Studies & Projects
  • Monitoring & Data
  • Key References

Ongoing research in Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky:

Ground-Level Ozone Impacts

Ground-level ozone at the park sometimes exceeds standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect public health and vegetation. Annual surveys on ozone-sensitive plants documented foliar ozone injury on Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed), Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum), and Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip poplar) (CUPN 2010). Mammoth Cave NP continuously monitors ozone. find data »

Nitrogen & Sulfur Impacts

Measured amounts of nitrogen and sulfur deposition are relatively high, but effects upon park resources have not been evaluated. find data »

Mercury Impacts

Mercury deposition at Mammoth Cave NP is a concern given numerous nearby coal-burning power plants, significant sources of mercury to the atmosphere. Mercury deposition at the park is comparatively high, (NPS 2010 [pdf, 2.8 MB]). Mercury deposition and the subsequent ecological effects at the park and other Cumberland Piedmont parks are currently being assessed by a research team from Western Kentucky University. Elevated levels of mercury have been found in bat, fish, insect, water, and sediment samples in the park (NPS 2009). Mammoth Cave NP continuously monitors mercury deposition. find data »

Air quality monitoring information and data access:

Air Pollutant/Impact

Monitoring Program

Sites and Data Access

Visibility IMPROVE
Ozone NPS–GPMP
Nitrogen & Sulfur Wet deposition NADP/NTN
Dry deposition CASTNet
Mercury NADP/MDN

Abbreviations in the above table:

    CASTNet: EPA Clean Air Status and Trends Network
    GPMP: Gaseous Pollutant Monitoring Program
    IMPROVE: Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments
    MDN: Mercury Deposition Network
    NADP: National Atmospheric Deposition Program
    NPS: National Park Service
    NTN: National Trends Network
    VIEWS: Visibility Information Exchange Web System

For more information regarding monitoring and data assessments conducted by the National Park Service, link to the NPS Air Quality Monitoring Program or to the NPS Air Quality Monitoring History Database for a history of active and inactive monitoring sites at Mammoth Cave NP.

Key air quality related references from Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky:

[CUPN] Cumberland Piedmont Network. 2010. Summary of Results of 2009 Foliar Injury Surveys by Cumberland Piedmont Network. Presented at the National Park Service Air Quality Planning Meeting. January 5-7, 2010. Denver, CO.

[IMPROVE] Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments. 2010. Improve Summary Data. Available at http://vista.cira.colostate.edu/improve/Data/IMPROVE/summary_data.htm.

[NPS] National Park Service. 2009. Assessing the Impact of Mercury Bioaccumulation in Cumberland Piedmont Park Units. PMIS 110144. National Park Service Annual Report.

[NPS] National Park Service. 2010. Air Quality in National Parks: 2009 Annual Performance and Progress Report. Natural Resource Report NPS/NRPC/ARD/NRR–2010/266. National Park Service, Denver, Colorado. Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/Pubs/pdf/gpra/AQ_Trends_In_ Parks_2009_Final_Web.pdf (pdf, 2.8 MB).


Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including fine particles, ozone, nitrogen, and mercury affect resources such as scenic vistas, streams, and soils. Find out how on our Mammoth Cave NP Air Pollution Impacts web page.

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Last Updated: June 14, 2011