EGU General Assembly 2020
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ammonia-biosphere interaction from IASI and ERA5

Rimal Abeed1, Sarah Safieddine1, Lieven Clarisse2, Martin Van Damme2, Pierre-François Coheur2, and Cathy Clerbaux1,2
Rimal Abeed et al.
  • 1LATMOS/IPSL, Sorbonne Université, UVSQ, CNRS, Paris, France
  • 2Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Spectroscopy, Quantum Chemistry and Atmospheric Remote Sensing (SQUARES), Brussels, Belgium 

The global concentration of reactive nitrogen (e.g. NH3, NOx and N2O) has intensely increased since the pre-industrial era. Ammonia (NH3) is one of the main sources of reactive nitrogen in the atmosphere and plays a crucial role in the formation of inorganic particulate matter, which harms health and deteriorates air quality. In addition to that, the wet/dry deposition of ammonia derivatives affects ecosystems through acidification and eutrophication of soil and water bodies; leading to a loss in biodiversity and intensification of the response to climate change. NH3 is mainly emitted by biomass burning and agricultural activities. Agriculture contributes to air pollution and is affected by atmospheric composition, meteorology and climate change.

Several studies proved the efficiency of the IASI instrument aboard Metop satellites in measuring ammonia from space. For the last ten years, hotspots of ammonia point sources have been identified and categorized around the world.

In this poster, we explore the interaction of atmospheric ammonia with land, meteorological, and leaf conditions. We look at the temporal variability of ammonia in different regions of the world. The relationship land-ammonia volatilization is assessed by comparing the variability of surface soil moisture and the skin temperature products from the ECMWF latest reanalysis (ERA5) with IASI NH3 total columns. The meteorology-ammonia relation is examined, by looking at air temperature, humidity, precipitation, planetary boundary layer height, and wind speed/direction. Agricultural seasons in studied regions are detected from space in matter of leaf area per ground area. The crop-ammonia relation is assessed by looking at the Leaf Area Index (LAI) products. The regions examined have been identified as point sources and/or hotspots of ammonia of agricultural and industrial sources (mainly fertilizer industry).

The result of this work will improve our understanding of biosphere-atmosphere interactions, in particular, the relationship between ammonia on the one hand and land, meteorology and crops on the other hand, in different regions in the world.

How to cite: Abeed, R., Safieddine, S., Clarisse, L., Van Damme, M., Coheur, P.-F., and Clerbaux, C.: Ammonia-biosphere interaction from IASI and ERA5, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8495,, 2020.


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displays version 1 – uploaded on 07 May 2020
  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-8495, BEAUVAIS François, 08 May 2020

    I have questions about your research. It's very interesting to know that rising temperatures and dry soils affect more ammonia in the atmosphere in your slide, especially since these climatic conditions could be accentuated with climate change in many parts of the world. Moreover with intensive agriculture with the use of fertilizers. Can your research also identify agricultural regions with cropping systems that cause less ammonia in the atmosphere under these unfavourable climatic conditions?

    I don't know much about satellite measurements. Your approach is similar to remote sensing?

    What prospects do you see for the relationship between climate conditions and ammonia?

    thank you


    François Beauvais

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Rimal Abeed, 15 May 2020

      Hi François,

      Thank you for your interest! Kindly find my answers below.

      Q1: Can your research also identify agricultural regions with cropping systems that cause less ammonia in the atmosphere under these unfavorable climatic conditions?

      • I can observe an increase or a decrease of ammonia concentration, but it’s not easy to use satellite data to do a one crop study, as the resolution is not fine enough. Most of the regions I am looking at are mixed agricultural lands, I cannot distinguish between crop types for the time being. What I’ve seen so far is that higher ammonia is mostly enhanced by a higher temperature due to the fact that when the temperature increases, volatilization is enhanced by the soil. With the increase in N-fertilizer use and the increase of temperature, NH3 is going to be volatilized at a faster rate, hence more N loss is expected and less N uptake by the plant.

      Q2: Your approach is similar to remote sensing?

      • Yes, IASI is a remote IR sensor. It is a Fourier Transform spectrometer, circulating the earth on the three metop satellites (a, b and c). It measures infrared radiation emitted by the surface of the Earth and the atmosphere in the 645-2760 cm-1 spectral range. It serves for the measurements of greenhouse gases, reactive species (such as ozone O3, carbon monoxide CO, and nitric acid HNO3), and other short-lived species such as ammonia NH3, above local sources.

        The detection of NH3 by IASI is done in the thermal infrared in its ʋ2 vibrational band (~950 cm-1). The NH3 total columns used here are derived from IASI using an Artificial Neural Network reanalyzed with ERA-interim data (ANNI-NH3-v2.1R) developed by Van Damme et al. in 2017. The number of the total columns of NH3 provided by IASI does not only depend on the overpass time, but also on the state of the atmosphere and the cloud cover.

      Q3: What prospects do you see for the relationship between climate conditions and ammonia?

      • We clearly see a relationship between temperature and ammonia, and therefore there will be a relationship between climate change and ammonia evaporation into the atmosphere. The loss of nitrogen as ammonia is expected to happen at a faster rate with an increase in soil temperature. Moreover, I have also noted that drought enhances NH3 in the atmosphere: a drought leads to less NH4+ in the soil and more NH3 in the atmosphere. Ammonia is easily lost when the soil is dry following the application of urea.

      I hope I've answered clearly all your questions, for any more details or questions or just a simple exchange do not hesitate to send me an e-mail to

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, BEAUVAIS François, 18 May 2020

        Thank you for your detailed answer, it's clear

        Good continuation, it's very interesting !