, Volume 48, Issue 1-2, pp 51-60

Global inventory of NOx sources

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Nitrogen oxides are key compounds for the oxidation capacity of the troposphere. NOx concentrations depend on the proximity of sources because of their short atmospheric lifetime. An accurate knowledge of the distribution of their sources and sinks is therefore crucial. At global scale, the dominant sources of nitrogen oxides - combustions of fossil fuel (∼50%) and biomass burning (∼20%) - are basically anthropogenic. Natural sources, including lightning and microbial activity in soils, represent therefore less than 30% of total emissions. Fertilizer use in agriculture constitutes an anthropogenic perturbation to the microbial source. The methods to estimate the magnitude and distribution of these dominant sources of nitrogen oxides are discussed. Some minor sources which may play a specific role in tropospheric chemistry such as NOx emission from aircraft in the upper troposphere or input from production in the stratosphere from N2O photodissociation are also considered.