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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 05 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 05 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

NH3 emissions from large point sources derived from CrIS and IASI satellite observations

Enrico Dammers1, Chris A. McLinden1, Debora Griffin1, Mark W. Shephard1, Shelley Van Der Graaf2, Erik Lutsch3, Martijn Schaap4, Yonatan Gainairu-Matz1, Vitali Fioletov1, Martin Van Damme5, Simon Whitburn5, Lieven Clarisse5, Karen Cady-Pereira6, Cathy Clerbaux5,7, Pierre Francois Coheur5, and Jan Willem Erisman2,8 Enrico Dammers et al.
  • 1Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Cluster Earth and Climate, Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 4TNO, Climate Air and Sustainability, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 5Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Service de Chimie Quantique et Photophysique, Atmospheric Spectroscopy, Brussels, Belgium
  • 6Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER), Lexington, MA, USA
  • 7LATMOS/IPSL, Sorbonne Université, UVSQ, CNRS, Paris, France
  • 8Louis Bolk Institute, Driebergen, the Netherlands

Abstract. Ammonia (NH3) is an essential reactive nitrogen species in the biosphere and through its use in agriculture in the form of fertilizer important for sustaining human kind. The current emission levels however, are up to four times higher than in the previous century and continue to grow with uncertain consequences to human health and the environment. While NH3 at its current levels is a hazard to the environmental and human health the atmospheric budget is still highly uncertain, which is a product of an overall lack of measurements. The capability to measure NH3 with satellites has opened up new ways to study the atmospheric NH3 budget. In this study we present the first estimates of NH3 emissions, lifetimes, and plume widths from large (> ~ 5 kt/yr) agricultural and industrial point sources from CrIS satellite observations across the globe with a consistent methodology. The same methodology is also applied to the IASI (A and B) satellite observations and we show that the satellites typically provide comparable results that are within the uncertainty of the estimates. The computed NH3 lifetime for large point sources is on average 2.35 ± 1.16 hours. For the 249 sources with emission levels detectable by the CrIS satellite, there are currently 55 locations missing (or underestimated by more than an order of magnitude) from the current HTAPv2 emission inventory, and only 72 locations with emissions within a factor 2 compared to the inventories. We find a total of 5622 kt/yr, for the sources analyzed in this study, which is equivalent to a factor ~ 2.5 between the CrIS estimated and HTAPv2 emissions. Furthermore, the study shows that it is possible to accurately detect short and long-term changes in emissions, demonstrating the possibility of using satellite observed NH3 to constrain emission inventories.

Enrico Dammers et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Enrico Dammers et al.
Enrico Dammers et al.
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Short summary
Ammonia is an essential molecule in the environment, but at its current levels is unsustainable. However, the emissions are highly uncertain. We explore the use of satellites to estimate the ammonia lifetime and emissions around point sources to help improve the budget. The same method applied to different satellites instruments shows consistent results. Comparison to the emission inventories shows that those are underestimating emissions of point sources with on average a factor 2.5.
Ammonia is an essential molecule in the environment, but at its current levels is unsustainable....