Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

U.S. Exports Nitrogen Pollution Beyond Its Borders, Europe’s Nitrogen Deposited Close to Sources

17.03.2005


The United States exports nitrogen pollution beyond its borders, and some of this nitrogen may end up in Western Europe, according to a recent data analysis by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of New Hampshire. Most of the nitrogen pollution produced in Western Europe is deposited within its own boundaries, the authors found. The findings are an important step in quantifying total U.S. pollution export for policy makers. The study was published in the February issue of the journal Ecological Applications.



Nitrogen pollution degrades air and water quality and alters terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems worldwide, with profound consequences for human health and agriculture.

Atmospheric nitrogen emission and deposition are out of balance for the continental United States but more closely balanced in Europe, the authors found when they analyzed data gathered between 1978 and 1994. Only 40% of U.S. nitrogen released into the atmosphere as trace gases, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3), was found deposited within U.S. boundaries during the study period. Between 5.30 and 7.81 million metric tons (5.83 and 8.59 million U.S. tons) of total NOx and NH3 were unaccounted for and possibly transported elsewhere each year, the authors estimate.


“According to our study, the United States is exporting nitrogen, ”says lead author Elisabeth Holland of NCAR, “with the majority of it coming from fossil fuel combustion in factories, cars, and power plants. And there’s some evidence that a portion of the U.S. nitrogen pollution may end up in Western Europe.” More research is needed before scientists can say how much nitrogen reaches Europe, she adds.

Trace gases can be blown downwind over long distances until the gases and their reaction products are washed out by rain or snow or deposited in a dry state on Earth’s surface. Nitrogen emitted in the United States is often blown eastward and deposited on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Some nitrogen compounds, traveling at higher elevations, could reach Western Europe.

The authors used the limited number of network observations available over land together with geostatistical mapping techniques and computer models of chemical removal to map nitrogen emission and deposition in the United States and Western Europe from 1978 to 1994.

They found that nitrogen deposited in the United States was mainly in the form of compounds produced by fossil-fuel burning. However, the amount of nitrogen found deposited here was only 40% of the total amount emitted into the atmosphere in trace gases. The difference suggests nitrogen-containing gases were being transported beyond U.S. boundaries.

In contrast, Western Europe received five times more nitrogen in precipitation than the lower 48 states during the study period, with nearly that much deposited on the surface there. Most of the nitrogen found in deposits in Western Europe was in the form of compounds produced by farming and animal husbandry.

Human population growth, fossil fuel consumption, deforestation, and intensification of agriculture have accelerated nitrogen emission and deposition over the past century and a half, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. The result is that higher levels of nitrogen enter the atmosphere in trace gases, which can act as pollutants. Nitrogen pollution is most known for its role in damaging ecosystems through acid rain and contaminating air by forming ozone, which harms living tissue and decreases plant production.

The authors caution that their results are only estimates. The data were gathered from an observation network originally set up to measure the effects of acid rain on rural and remote regions. The sparsely scattered U.S. sites, situated far from cities, may be under-measuring nitrogen deposition from urban emissions, they say.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, NASA, and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. NCAR’s primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

Anatta | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucar.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>