Towards a climate-dependent paradigm of ammonia emission and deposition

M.A. Sutton, S. Reis, S.N. Riddick, U. Dragosits, E. Nemitz, M.R. Theobald, Y.S. Tang, W. de Vries

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301 Citations (Scopus)


Existing descriptions of bi-directional ammonia (NH3) land–atmosphere exchange incorporate temperature and moisture controls, and are beginning to be used in regional chemical transport models. However, such models have typically applied simpler emission factors to upscale the main NH3 emission terms. While this approach has successfully simulated the main spatial patterns on local to global scales, it fails to address the environment- and climate-dependence of emissions. To handle these issues, we outline the basis for a new modelling paradigm where both NH3 emissions and deposition are calculated online according to diurnal, seasonal and spatial differences in meteorology. We show how measurements reveal a strong, but complex pattern of climatic dependence, which is increasingly being characterized using ground-based NH3 monitoring and satellite observations, while advances in process-based modelling are illustrated for agricultural and natural sources, including a global application for seabird colonies. A future architecture for NH3 emission–deposition modelling is proposed that integrates the spatio-temporal interactions, and provides the necessary foundation to assess the consequences of climate change. Based on available measurements, a first empirical estimate suggests that 58C warming would increase emissions by 42 per cent (28–67%). Together with increased anthropogenic activity, global NH3 emissions may increase from 65 (45–85) Tg N in 2008 to reach 132 (89–179) Tg by 2100.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130166
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Series B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1621
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • plant-atmosphere exchange
  • gas-particle interactions
  • compensation point
  • managed grassland
  • dutch heathland
  • model
  • volatilization
  • nitrogen
  • canopy
  • soil


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