Estimation of ammonia deposition to forest ecosystems in Scotland and Sri Lanka using wind-controlled NH3 enhancement experiments

Deshpande, Ajinkya G. ORCID:; Jones, Matthew R.; van Dijk, Netty; Mullinger, Neil J. ORCID:; Harvey, Duncan ORCID:; Nicoll, Robert; Toteva, Galina ORCID:; Weerakoon, Gothamie; Nissanka, Sarath; Weerakoon, Buddhika; Grenier, Maude ORCID:; Iwanicka, Agata; Duarte, Fred ORCID:; Stephens, Amy; Ellis, Christopher J.; Vieno, Massimo ORCID:; Drewer, Julia ORCID:; Wolseley, Pat A.; Nanayakkara, Shamodi; Prabhashwara, Tharindu; Bealey, William J.; Nemitz, Eiko; Sutton, Mark A.. 2024 Estimation of ammonia deposition to forest ecosystems in Scotland and Sri Lanka using wind-controlled NH3 enhancement experiments. Atmospheric Environment, 320, 120325. 25, pp.

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Ammonia (NH3) pollution has emerged as a major cause of concern as atmospheric concentrations continue to increase globally. Environmentally damaging NH3 levels are expected to severely affect sensitive and economically important organisms, but evidence is lacking in many parts of the world. We describe the design and operation of a wind-controlled NH3 enhancement system to assess effects on forests in two contrasting climates. We established structurally identical NH3 enhancement systems in a temperate birch woodland in the UK and a tropical sub-montane forest in central Sri Lanka, both simulating real-world NH3 pollution conditions. Vertical and horizontal NH3 concentrations were monitored at two different time scales to understand NH3 transport within the forest canopies. We applied a bi-directional resistance model with four canopy layers to calculate net deposition fluxes. At both sites, NH3 concentrations and deposition were found to decrease exponentially with distance away from the source, consistent with expectations. Conversely, we found differences in vertical mixing of NH3 between the two experiments, with more vertically uniform NH3 concentrations in the dense and multi-layered sub-montane forest canopy in Sri Lanka. Monthly NH3 concentrations downwind of the source ranged from 3 to 29 μg m−3 at the UK site and 2–47 μg m−3 at the Sri Lankan site, compared with background values of 0.63 and 0.35 μg m−3, respectively. The total calculated NH3 dry deposition flux to all the canopy layers along the NH3 transects ranged from 12 to 162 kg N ha−1 yr−1 in the UK and 16–426 kg N ha−1 yr−1 in Sri Lanka, representative of conditions in the vicinity of a range of common NH3 sources. This multi-layer model is applicable for identifying the fate of NH3 in forest ecosystems where the gas enters the canopy laterally through the trunk space and exposes the understorey to high NH3 levels. In both study sites, we found that cuticular deposition was the dominant flux in the vegetation layers, with a smaller contribution from stomatal uptake. The new facilities are now allowing the first ever field comparison of NH3 impacts on forest ecosystems, with special focus on lichen bio-indicators, which will provide vital evidence to inform NH3 critical levels and associated nitrogen policy development in South Asia.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1352-2310
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: ammonia, dry deposition, enhancement, field release, resistance modelling, compensation point
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 12 Jan 2024 10:21 +0 (UTC)

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