Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford scientists help shed light on key component of China's pollution problem

26.02.2013
Study reveals scale of nitrogen's effect on people and ecosystems.
It's no secret that China is faced with some of the world's worst pollution. Until now, however, information on the magnitude, scope and impacts of a major contributor to that pollution – human-caused nitrogen emissions – was lacking.

A new study co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute biologist Peter Vitousek reveals that amounts of nitrogen (from industry, cars and fertilizer) deposited on land and water in China by way of rain, dust and other carriers increased by 60 percent annually from the 1980s to the 2000s, with profound consequences for the country's people and ecosystems.

Xuejun Liu and Fusuo Zhang at China Agricultural University in Beijing led the study, which is part of an ongoing collaboration with Stanford aimed at reducing agricultural nutrient pollution while increasing food production in China – a collaboration that includes Vitousek and Pamela Matson, a Stanford Woods Institute senior fellow and dean of the School of Earth Sciences.

The researchers analyzed all available data on bulk nitrogen deposition from monitoring sites throughout China from 1980 to 2010.

During the past 30 years, China has become by far the largest creator and emitter of nitrogen globally. The country's use of nitrogen as a fertilizer increased about threefold from the 1980s to 2000s, while livestock numbers and coal combustion increased about fourfold, and the number of automobiles about twentyfold (all of these activities release reactive nitrogen into the environment).

Increased levels of nitrogen have led to a range of deleterious impacts including decreased air quality, acidification of soil and water, increased greenhouse gas concentrations and reduced biological diversity.

"All these changes can be linked to a common driving factor: strong economic growth, which has led to continuous increases in agricultural and non-agricultural reactive nitrogen emissions and consequently increased nitrogen deposition," the study's authors write.

Researchers found highly significant increases in bulk nitrogen deposition since the 1980s in China's industrialized North, Southeast and Southwest. Nitrogen levels on the North China Plain are much higher than those observed in any region in the United States and are comparable to the maximum values observed in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands when nitrogen deposition was at its peak in the 1980s.

China's rapid industrialization and agricultural expansion have led to continuous increases in nitrogen emissions and nitrogen deposition. China's production and use of nitrogen-based fertilizers is greater than that of the United States and the European Union combined. Because of inefficiencies, more than half of that fertilizer is lost to the environment in gaseous or dissolved forms.

China's nitrogen deposition problem could be brought under control, the study's authors state, if the country's environmental policy focused on improving efficiency in agricultural use of nitrogen and reducing nitrogen emissions from all sources, including industry and transit.

Rob Jordan is the communications writer for the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Peter Vitousek | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>