Ammonia Current Affairs - 2019

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South Asian Nitrogen Hub

The British government has announced a research project, South Asian Nitrogen Hub to study nitrogen pollution in India and South Asia. The project led by UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology will partner with 50 organisations from the UK and South Asia. The Indian Institutions partnering the study are:

  • National Institute of Oceanography
  • Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Aligarh Muslim University
  • National Physical Laboratory
  • TERI University

The project aims to study the impact of different forms of nitrogen pollution, particularly looking at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries of South Asia which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.

Nitrogen Pollution

Pollutant Gases like ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are produced from chemical fertilizers, livestock manure, and burning fossil fuels and is connected to air pollution, biodiversity loss, the pollution of rivers and seas, ozone depletion, health, economy and livelihoods.

Gases like Ammonia and nitrogen dioxide can aggravate respiratory and heart conditions. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that depletes the ozone layer. Nitrate from chemical fertilisers, manure and industry pollutes rivers and seas, poses a health risk for humans, fish, coral and plant life.

Ammonia detected for first time in upper Troposphere

Scientists for the first time have detected ammonia in the upper troposphere, the lowest atmospheric layer of Earth.

It was detected by team of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. They had analysed satellite data collected from various parts of the troposphere between June 2002 to April 2012.

Key Findings 
  • The ammonia (NH3) was released into the atmosphere as agricultural emission from livestock farming and fertilisation.
  • It was found in highest concentrations above Asian monsoon regions of India and China. Similar levels of ammonia were detected nowhere else on Earth.
  • The ammonia concentration was up to 33 pptv (33 ammonia molecules per trillion air molecules) above Southeast China and North India.
  • The ammonia released due to agricultural processes survives all the way to the troposphere, where it ends up in monsoons.
  • It is not washed out completely when air ascends in monsoon circulation. It enters the upper troposphere from the boundary layer close to the ground, where the gas occurs at relatively high concentrations.
  • The detected ammonia may be playing a role in formation of aerosol (tiny particles made from super-fine solid particles) in the troposphere.
  • The aerosol may have influence cloud formation and altering properties of existing clouds
  • It is thought that accumulation of ammonia in the troposphere could have a cooling effect.
  • It can be compensating in part for the human-caused greenhouse effect. Thus, it can help to mitigate the effects of global warming

Earth’s troposphere: It extends from 7 to 20 km above sea level. It contains up to 80% of the planet’s atmosphere, and all weather phenomena.