WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme has held an international workshop on the nitrogen cycle - a new area of cross-cutting research intended to support ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture.
Nitrogen is a key environmental constituent that can have harmful effects on air and water quality, climate change, ecosystems and soil quality, whilst simultaneously being the key to global food production. Given the tension between food production and environmental degradation, the need to increase nitrogen use efficiency is a key scientific and policy challenge.
A focus of this workshop was on how the Global Atmosphere Watch network can contribute to meeting the challenges and, in particular, how it can support the International Nitrogen Management System (INMS) initiative through better observations and modelling of atmospheric gases and deposition including nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3). These two gases are emitted by agriculture. Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas emitted due to human activities.
The workshop recommended that gaseous NH3 should be a priority for research and measurement activities. There is a gap in both the regulation and observation of ammonia emissions at international level.
It also recommended that organic nitrogen compounds in the gas phase, aerosol phase and total deposition be identified as an important area for research and measurements activities.
WMO/GAW should improve its ties with the agricultural community. It may be beneficial to establish joint projects in the areas where pilot projects in support of the Global Framework for Climate Service are taking place due to the high sensitivity of Nitrogen cycle to climate change and its importance for fertilizer management.
The workshop took place at the University of York, United Kingdom, from 13 to 14 April. Workshop presentations are available here
More Information on Global Atmosphere Watch is available here