The researchers of the CNRS and the University of the Bruxelles (ULB) have prepared the first global map of the distribution of atmospheric ammonia (NH3) by analyzing measurements taken by satellites between 2008 and 2016. The Yasi interimomater developed by the CSN allowed They have cataloged more than 200 ammonia sources, two-thirds of which have never been identified before. The sources are essentially sites of intensive livestock production and industrial activity. The funding team was released Nature (December 5).
For the last twelve years, the Yasi Intermarometer on board three successive metropolitan subjects have provided scientists with global data on different atmospheric components, including ammonia. Atmospheric ammonia needs special attention because it breaks down into fine ammonium salt particles, which destroys the quality of air we breathe. But the processes that regulate the concentration of this gas are still poorly understood, especially on the local scale.
Using the daily data on ammonia levels by the interprofemator recorded over a span of about ten years, the researchers generated a map of the global atmospheric distribution of ammonia whose resolution is on the order of a square kilometer. By combining their site with satellite images, they have uncovered and cited 241 papers of anthropogenic NH3 emissions – 83 linked to intensive livestock production and 158 industrial activity – as well as 178 emission zones.
In addition to recording new sources not found on current emission inventories, the study has shown that levels of emissions of previously identified sources are very underestimated. Through the frequency of data over time, the team is also able to track the aspects of related human activities such as the startup or shutdown of industrial complexes or expansion of intensive animal farming infrastructures.
The findings suggest that better management of the impact of ammonia pollution needs a comprehensive review of ammonia emissions, which are much higher than currently suggested by inventories.