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

Enrico Dammers, Chris A. McLinden, Debora Griffin, Mark W. Shephard, Shelley Van Der Graaf, Erik Lutsch, Martijn Schaap, Yonatan Gainairu-Matz, Vitali Fioletov, Martin Van Damme, Simon Whitburn, Lieven Clarisse, Karen Cady-Pereira, Cathy Clerbaux, Pierre Francois Coheur, Jan Willem Erisman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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 humankind). The current emission levels, however, are up to 4 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 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-1) agricultural and industrial point sources from Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) satellite observations across the globe with a consistent methodology. The same methodology is also applied to the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (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 h. 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 Hemispheric Transport Atmospheric Pollution version 2 (HTAPv2) emission inventory and only 72 locations with emissions within a factor of 2 compared to the inventories. The CrIS emission estimates give a total of 5622 kt yr-1, for the sources analyzed in this study, which is around a factor of ∼ 2:5 higher than the emissions reported in HTAPv2. 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12261-12293
Number of pages33
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


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