We hear about greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane emissions, a lot these days, but other types of air pollution are happening as well. One major problem is ammonia in the atmosphere, a major component in smog and a toxin to many freshwater aquatic organisms. Getting a handle on just how much ammonia humans are producing and where it’s entering the atmosphere has been difficult.
But a new study in the journal Nature used a decades-worth of satellite emissions tracking to pinpoint ammonia hotspots around the globe, most of which were previously unknown.
A team of researchers from the Université libre de Bruxelles and France’s CNRS used three European MetOp weather satellites to gather twice-daily readings on ammonia emissions over the last decade. Each satellite was fitted with an instrument that was able to measure ammonia concentrations down to the square kilometer. The team then overlaid that data with satellite imagery, which allowed them to identify 241 major hotspots of ammonia emissions.
According to the paper, 83 of the sources were linked to livestock, whose feces and urine break down and release ammonia and the remaining 158 sources linked to industrial activity. They also identified 178 larger emission zones—two-thirds of which had never been previously identified....Read more
Source web page:Smithsoniansmag.com