Role of ammonia in European air quality with changing land and ship emissions between 1990 and 2030

Aksoyoglu, Sebnem; Jiang, Jianhui; Ciarelli, Giancarlo; Baltensperger, Urs; Prévôt, André S. H.

The focus of this modeling study is on the role of ammonia in European air quality in the past as well as in the future. Ammonia emissions have not decreased as much as the other secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA) precursors – nitrogen oxides (inline-formulaNOx) and sulfur dioxide (inline-formulaSO2) – since the 1990s and are still posing problems for air quality and the environment. In this study, air quality simulations were performed with a regional chemical transport model at decadal intervals between 1990 and 2030 to understand the changes in the chemical species associated with SIA under varying land and ship emissions. We analyzed the changes in air concentrations of ammonia, nitric acid, ammonium, particulate nitrate and sulfate as well as changes in the dry and wet deposition of ammonia and ammonium. The results show that the approximately 40 % decrease in SIA concentrations between 1990 and 2010 was mainly due to reductions in inline-formulaNOx and inline-formulaSO2 emissions. The ammonia concentrations on the other hand decreased only near the high-emission areas such as the Netherlands and northern Italy by about 30 %, while there was a slight increase in other parts of Europe. Larger changes in concentrations occurred mostly during the first period (1990–2000). The model results indicate a transition period after 2000 for the composition of secondary inorganic aerosols due to a larger decrease in sulfate concentrations than nitrate. Changes between 2010 and 2030 – assuming the current legislation (CLE) scenario – are predicted to be smaller than those achieved earlier for all species analyzed in this study. The scenario simulations suggest that if ship emissions will be regulated more strictly in the future, SIA formation will decrease especially around the Benelux area, North Sea, Baltic Sea, English Channel and the Mediterranean region, leaving more ammonia in the gas phase, which would lead to an increase in dry deposition. In the north of the domain, the decrease in SIA would be mainly due to reduced formation of particulate nitrate, while the change around the Mediterranean would be caused mainly by decreased sulfate aerosol concentrations. One should also keep in mind that potentially higher temperatures in the future might increase the evaporation of ammonium nitrate to form its gaseous components inline-formulaNH3 and inline-formulaHNO3. Sensitivity tests with reduced inline-formulaNOx and inline-formulaNH3 emissions indicate a shift in the sensitivity of aerosol formation from inline-formulaNH3 towards inline-formulaNOx emissions between 1990 and 2030 in most of Europe except the eastern part of the model domain.

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Aksoyoglu, Sebnem / Jiang, Jianhui / Ciarelli, Giancarlo / et al: Role of ammonia in European air quality with changing land and ship emissions between 1990 and 2030. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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