The first complete map of global ammonia emissions has recently been achieved using to satellite data. It reveals an underestimation of some of the ammonia concentrations detected by current inventories, and identifies new hotspots.This work, carried out by a team from LATMOS-IPSL (CNRS/UPMC/UVSQ) in collaboration with Belgian researchers from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, was facilitated by the infrared measurements of the French IASI instrument, part of the MetOp meteorological satellite developed by CNES.
Ammonia (NH3) contributes significantly to the formation of the particles that give rise to pollution episodes. It mainly emanates from the use of agricultural fertilizers and increasingly intensified livestock breeding practices. Ammonia is the least well-understood pollutant regulated by European Directives on air quality. Mapping of its emissions are imprecise and systematic global monitoring of this compound is difficult. Once emitted, ammonia only remains in the atmosphere for a short period but triggers a cascade of environmental effects. At a local level, high ammonia concentrations affect fauna, flora and air quality.