NASA Study Traces Decade of Ammonia Air Pollution in Africa

Sat, 20 Nov 2021 23:52:39 GMT
Space Daily

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Nov 18, 2021 A new NASA-led study is the first to document changing atmospheric...

A new NASA-led study is the first to document changing atmospheric ammonia concentrations in Africa over an extended period.

Ammonia is an air pollutant which can lead to heart and lung related illness.

Ammonia is emitted naturally from soils and vegetation fires, but agricultural activities such as raising livestock and using fertilizer are also major sources.

As agriculture scales up to meet the needs of growing populations, it is likely that ammonia emissions will rise too.

To create this current view of ammonia emissions, the researchers used satellite data from 2008 to 2018, identifying rises and falls in ammonia concentrations across the continent and the likely causes of those changes.

"We've shown here that we can use satellite data to observe trends and monitor emissions of ammonia in specific regions, linked to specific activities or environmental events," said Enrico Dammers, a scientist at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research and co-author of the paper.

These factors made Africa an important place to study ammonia emissions, according to principal investigator Jonathan Hickman, a research scientist at Columbia University and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

"Understanding how human-made and natural ammonia emission sources are changing is important for ensuring policies and technologies that promote sustainable agricultural development."

Research Report: "Changes in biomass burning, wetland extent, or agriculture drive atmospheric NH3 trends in select African regions".

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