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The effect of climate and climate change on ammonia emissions in Europe

by C. A. Skjøth, C. Geels
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

We present here a dynamical method for modelling temporal and geographical variations in ammonia emissions in regional-scale chemistry transport models (CTMs) and chemistry climate models (CCMs). The method is based on the meteorology in the models and gridded inventories. We use the dynamical method to investigate the spatiotemporal variability of ammonia emissions across part of Europe and study how these emissions are related to geographical and year-to-year variations in atmospheric temperature alone. For simplicity we focus on the emission from a storage facility related to a standard Danish pig stable with 1000 animals and display how emissions from this source would vary geographically throughout central and northern Europe and from year to year. In view of future climate changes, we also evaluate the potential future changes in emission by including temperature projections from an ensemble of climate models. The results point towards four overall issues. (1) Emissions can easily vary by 20% for different geographical locations within a country due to overall variations in climate. The largest uncertainties are seen for large countries such as the UK, Germany and France. (2) Annual variations in overall climate can at specific locations cause uncertainties in the range of 20%. (3) Climate change may increase emissions by 0–40% in central to northern Europe. (4) Gradients in existing emission inventories that are seen between neighbour countries (e.g. between the UK and France) can be reduced by using a dynamical methodology for calculating emissions. Acting together these four factors can cause substantial uncertainties in emission. Emissions are generally considered among the largest uncertainties in the model calculations made with CTM and CCM models. Efforts to reduce uncertainties are therefore highly relevant. It is therefore recommended that both CCMs and CTMs implement a dynamical methodology for simulating ammonia emissions in a similar way as for biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOCs) – a method that has been used for more than a decade in CTMs. Finally, the climate penalty on ammonia emissions should be taken into account at the policy level such as the NEC and IPPC directives.

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