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The influence of long term trends in pollutant emissions on deposition of sulphur and nitrogen and exceedance of critical loads in the United Kingdom

By Malgorzata Matejko, Antony J. Dore, Jane Hall, Christopher J. Dore, Marek Blas, Maciej Kryza, Rognvald Smith and David Fowler


In the United Kingdom, as with other European countries, land-based emissions of NOX and SO2 have fallen significantly over the last few decades. SO2 emissions fell from a peak of 3185 Gg S in 1970 to 344 Gg S in 2005 and are forecast by business-as-usual emissions scenarios to fall to 172 Gg by 2020. NOX emissions were at a maximum of 951 Gg N in 1970 and fell to 378 by 2005 with a further decrease to 243 Gg N forecast by 2020. These large changes in emissions have not been matched by emissions changes for NH3 which decreased from 315 Gg N in 1990 to 259 in 2005 and are forecast to fall to 222 by 2020. The Fine Resolution Atmospheric Multi-pollutant Exchange model (FRAME) has been applied to model the spatial distribution of sulphur and nitrogen deposition over the United Kingdom during a 15 year time period (1990-2005) and compared with measured deposition of sulphate, nitrate and ammonium from the national monitoring network. Wet deposition of nitrogen and sulphur was found to decrease more slowly than the emissions reductions rate. This is attributed to a number of factors including increases in emissions from international shipping and changing rates of atmospheric oxidation. The modelled time series was extended to a 50 year period from 1970 to 2020. The modelled deposition of SOx, NOy and NHx to the UK was found to fall by 87%, 52% and 25% during this period. The percentage of the United Kingdom surface area for which critical loads are exceeded is estimated to fall from 85% in 1970 to 37% in 2020 for acidic deposition and from 73% to 49% for nutrient nitrogen deposition. The significant reduction in land emissions of SO2 and NOX focuses further attention in controlling emissions from international shipping. Future policies to control emissions of ammonia from agriculture will be required to effect further significant reductions in nitrogen deposition

Topics: Atmospheric Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.envsci.2009.08.005
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:9364

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