The Scientific World Journal

The Scientific World Journal / 2001 / Article
Special Issue

Optimizing Nitrogen Management in Food and Energy Production and Environmental Protection: 2nd International Nitrogen Conference 2001

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Research Article | Open Access

Volume 1 |Article ID 162409 |

Maximilian Posch, Jean-Paul Hettelingh, Petra Mayerhofer, "Past and Future Exceedances of Nitrogen Critical Loads in Europe", The Scientific World Journal, vol. 1, Article ID 162409, 8 pages, 2001.

Past and Future Exceedances of Nitrogen Critical Loads in Europe

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski
Received21 Jul 2001
Revised08 Oct 2001
Accepted15 Oct 2001


Critical loads of acidity and nutrient nitrogen — simple measures of the sensitivity of ecosystems to deposition — have been widely used for setting emission reduction targets in Europe. In contrast to sulfur, the emissions of nitrogen compounds remain high in the future. This is also true for the exceedances of critical loads until 2010. Looking further into the future, climate change is likely to influence ecosystem sensitivity, and thus critical loads. It is shown that higher temperatures, changed precipitation patterns, and modified net primary production mainly increase critical loads, except in mountainous and arid regions. Using consistent scenarios of climate change and air pollution from a recently completed European study (AIR-CLIM), it is shown that the exceedances in 2100 of the critical loads are declining in comparison to 2010. However, exceedances of critical loads of nutrient nitrogen remain substantial, even under the most stringent scenario. This confirms the increasing role nitrogen plays in environmental problems in comparison to sulfur. Thus research should focus on the effects of nitrogen in the environment, especially under conditions of climate change, to support nitrogen-emission mitigating policies. This not only reduces acidification and eutrophication, but also helps curb the formation of tropospheric ozone.

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