The application of inverse-dispersion and gradient methods to estimate ammonia emissions from a penguin colony

Theobald, Mark R.; Crittenden, Peter D.; Tang, Y. Sim; Sutton, Mark A.. 2013 The application of inverse-dispersion and gradient methods to estimate ammonia emissions from a penguin colony. Atmospheric Environment, 81. 320-329.

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Penguin colonies represent some of the most concentrated sources of ammonia emissions to the atmosphere in the world. The ammonia emitted into the atmosphere can have a large influence on the nitrogen cycling of ecosystems near the colonies. However, despite the ecological importance of the emissions, no measurements of ammonia emissions from penguin colonies have been made. The objective of this work was to determine the ammonia emission rate of a penguin colony using inverse-dispersion modelling and gradient methods. We measured meteorological variables and mean atmospheric concentrations of ammonia at seven locations near a colony of Adélie penguins in Antarctica to provide input data for inverse-dispersion modelling. Three different atmospheric dispersion models (ADMS, LADD and a Lagrangian stochastic model) were used to provide a robust emission estimate. The Lagrangian stochastic model was applied both in ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ mode to compare the difference between the two approaches. In addition, the aerodynamic gradient method was applied using vertical profiles of mean ammonia concentrations measured near the centre of the colony. The emission estimates derived from the simulations of the three dispersion models and the aerodynamic gradient method agreed quite well, giving a mean emission of 1.1 g ammonia per breeding pair per day (95% confidence interval: 0.4–2.5 g ammonia per breeding pair per day). This emission rate represents a volatilisation of 1.9% of the estimated nitrogen excretion of the penguins, which agrees well with that estimated from a temperature-dependent bioenergetics model. We found that, in this study, the Lagrangian stochastic model seemed to give more reliable emission estimates in ‘forwards’ mode than in ‘backwards’ mode due to the assumptions made.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Dise
ISSN: 1352-2310
Additional Keywords: ammonia emissions, penguins, seabirds, inverse-dispersion modelling, nitrogen
NORA Subject Terms: Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 11 Feb 2014 09:57 +0 (UTC)

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