European Facility For Airborne Research

European Facility For Airborne Research Sept. 29, 2023, 21:46

Expert Working Groups

EUFAR Airborne Science Webinar #5


Aircraft observations of NH3 from industrial and agricultural sources

11th January 2023 (1500 CET)

Lara Noppen (Université libre de Bruxelles, ULB)



Anthropogenic atmospheric emissions of the reactive nitrogen components nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ammonia (NH3) have majorly altered the global nitrogen cycle in the past 100 years, with devastating consequences to biodiversity, soil, water, and air quality. Thanks to effective legislation, NO2 emissions are declining worldwide. Unfortunately, this is not the case for NH3 whose concentrations are on the rise in Europe and most other parts of the developed world, underlining the need for stricter legislation supported by effective monitoring means.

Both species are currently actively monitored with several satellite sounders, which provide daily global measurements. However, the spatial resolution of current sounders is inadequate for resolving the highly heterogonous spatial distributions of these species. This is particularly the case for point source emitters, for which satellites are currently only able to quantify the largest and most isolated ones. To fill the important gap in the monitoring landscape, a satellite called Nitrosat has been proposed in answer to ESA’s Earth Explorer call. The satellite, which is in Phase 0 studies, would allow making simultaneous measurements of NO2 and NH3 at a spatial resolution of 500 meter or below. In support to the Nitrosat proposal, ESA is funding the Nitrocam project (Nitrogen cycle airborne measurements), with at its core almost 30 airborne campaigns in Europe. Each campaign surveyed a gapless area of at least 20 by 10 km at high spatial resolution, and each time spectroscopic measurements were performed in the visible and infrared spectral domain.

Here we present the results of the 2020, 2021 campaigns performed in the surroundings of Berlin, Germany, with a focus on the flights that surveyed industrial point sources of NH3. In particular, we present the measurements performed over an industrial fertilizer production plant and a plant producing soda ash. In addition to these observations of industrial emissions of NH3, we present the results of the 2022 campaigns performed in the Po Valley, Italy, which is the largest hotspot of NH3 in Europe because of its agricultural activities. Several observations of agricultural sources are shown, including emissions from a fertilizer release experiment in collaboration with a farmer and a night flight.


A recording of the webinar is now available at this link




Event date: Jan. 11, 2023
Originally published on Nov. 23, 2022
Last update on Sept. 1, 2023

Next: EUFAR/IAMAS/IUGG/ICCP Workshop on Processing of Cloud Particle Measurements

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