People and farm animals are helping an invisible pollutant to change the types of plants that grow in Britain, particularly in remote and rural regions such as the Lake District.
Nitrogen deposits are the cause of the problem. The dung from farm animals produces vast quantities of ammonia. Since the industrial revolution, burning fuels (coal, gas, petrol) has lead to massive emissions of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. These practices lead to ammonia and nitrates being deposited back onto the land, acting as fertilisers and acidifying soils.
Scientists working on the NERC-funded GANE (Global Atmospheric Nitrogen Enrichment) research initiative will be presenting the results of their investigations into this unseen and largely unnoticed problem at a conference in London next week.
Marion O’Sullivan | alfa
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