Measurement of atmospheric ammonia at a dairy using differential optical absorption spectroscopy in the mid-ultraviolet

George H. Mount, Brian Rumburg, Jeff Havig, Brian Lamb, Hal Westberg, David Yonge, Kristen Johnson, Ronald Kincaid

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    Abstract

    Ammonia is the most abundant basic gas in the atmosphere, and after N2 and N2O is the most abundant nitrogen-containing specie (Seinfeld and Pandis, 1998. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: from air pollution to climate changes. Wiley, New York). Typical concentrations of ammonia in the boundary layer range from <1 part per billion by volume (ppbv) in the free continental troposphere to parts per million (ppmv) levels over animal waste lagoons and near animal stalls. Agricultural activities are the dominant global source of ammonia emissions and a major environmental concern. In the US, ≈85% of ammonia emissions come from livestock operations (EPA Trends, 1998. www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/trends98/chapter2.pdf). Dairy farms constitute a large fraction of the livestock inventory. Current estimates of ammonia emissions to the atmosphere are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty, and so it is very important to obtain better estimates of ammonia emissions. We are working at the Washington State University research dairy to quantify ammonia emissions and investigate the effects of various mitigation strategies on those emissions. We describe here a new instrument utilizing the differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) technique to measure ammonia in the mid-ultraviolet with a detectability limit of about 1ppb. DOAS avoids many of the problems that have thwarted past ammonia concentration measurements. Initial results show concentrations in the barn/concrete yard areas in the tens of parts per million range, over the slurry lagoons of hundreds of parts per billion to low parts per million, and low parts per million levels after initial slurry applications onto pastureland. Future papers will report on emission fluxes from the various parts of the dairy and the results of mitigation strategies; we show here initial data results. For a recent review of ammonia volatilization from dairy farms, see Bussink and Oenema (Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 51(1998) 19).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1799-1810
    Number of pages12
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Volume36
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 17 2002

    Keywords

    • Ammonia
    • DOAS
    • Dairy
    • Long-path spectroscopy
    • Ultraviolet spectroscopy

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    Mount, G. H., Rumburg, B., Havig, J., Lamb, B., Westberg, H., Yonge, D., Johnson, K., & Kincaid, R. (2002). Measurement of atmospheric ammonia at a dairy using differential optical absorption spectroscopy in the mid-ultraviolet. Atmospheric Environment, 36(11), 1799-1810. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1352-2310(02)00158-9