, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 191–211

A global budget for atmospheric NH3


  • William H. Schlesinger
    • Departments of Botany and GeologyDuke University
  • Anne E. Hartley
    • Departments of Botany and GeologyDuke University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00002936

Cite this article as:
Schlesinger, W.H. & Hartley, A.E. Biogeochemistry (1992) 15: 191. doi:10.1007/BF00002936


We provide an assessment of the global sources of NH3 in the atmosphere, which indicates an annual flux of about 75 Tg of N as NH3. The emissions from land are dominated by the release of NH3 during the hydrolysis of urea from the urine of domestic animals (32 TgN/yr) and by emanations from soils in unmanaged ecosystems (10 TgN/yr) and from fertilized agricultural soils (9 TgN/yr). Emissions from the sea surface may approach 13 TgN/yr. The total annual source of NH3 is in reasonable agreement with estimates of global NH 4 + deposition from the atmosphere, the major fate of atmospheric NH3. As an alkaline atmospheric species, NH3 emitted to the atmosphere each year can neutralize only about 32% of the annual production of H+ in the atmosphere from natural and anthropogenic sources.

Key words

acid deposition ammonia volatilization cattle fertilizer fire nitrogen cycling soil nitrogen urea

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992