, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 7–43

Contemporary and pre-industrial global reactive nitrogen budgets

  • Elisabeth A. Holland
  • Frank J. Dentener
  • Bobby H. Braswell
  • James M. Sulzman

DOI: 10.1007/BF01007572

Cite this article as:
Holland, E.A., Dentener, F.J., Braswell, B.H. et al. Biogeochemistry (1999) 46: 7. doi:10.1007/BF01007572


Increases and expansion of anthropogenic emissions of both oxidized nitrogen compounds, NOx, and a reduced nitrogen compound, NH3, have driven an increase in nitrogen deposition. We estimate global NOx and NH3 emissions and use a model of the global troposphere, MOGUNTIA, to examine the pre-industrial and contemporary quantities and spatial patterns of wet and dry NOy and NHx deposition. Pre-industrial wet plus dry NOx and NHx deposition was greatest for tropical ecosystems, related to soil emissions, biomass burning and lightning emissions. Contemporary NOy+NHx wet and dry deposition onto Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperate ecosystems averages more than four times that of preindustrial N deposition and far exceeds contemporary tropical N deposition. All temperate and tropical biomes receive more N via deposition today than pre-industrially. Comparison of contemporary wet deposition model estimates to measurements of wet deposition reveal that modeled and measured wet deposition for both NO3 and NH4+ were quite similar over the U.S. Over Western Europe, the model tended to underestimate wet deposition of NO3 and NH4+ but bulk deposition measurements were comparable to modeled total deposition. For the U.S. and Western Europe, we also estimated N emission and deposition budgets. In the U.S., estimated emissions exceed interpolated total deposition by 3-6 Tg N, suggesting that substantial N is transported offshore and/or the remote and rural location of the sites may fail to capture the deposition of urban emissions. In Europe, by contrast, interpolated total N deposition balances estimated emissions within the uncertainty of each.

Key words

ammonia emissionsglobal nitrogen cyclenitric oxidenitrogen depositionnitrogen pollution



European Monitoring and Evaluation Program


Global Emissions Inventory Activity


National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network in the US


Northern Hemisphere


NOy total odd nitrogen=NOx+HNO3+HONO+HO2NO2+NO3+radical (NO3.)+Peroxyacetyl nitrates+N2O5+organic nitrates


Southern Hemisphere


109 g


1012 g

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth A. Holland
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frank J. Dentener
    • 3
  • Bobby H. Braswell
    • 4
  • James M. Sulzman
    • 1
  1. 1.Atmospheric Chemistry DivisionNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut für BiogeochemieJenaGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU)Utrecht UniversityCC UtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA