Reconsidering emissions of ammonia from chemical fertilizer usage in midwest USA

Srinidhi Balasubramanian, Sotiria Koloutsou-Vakakis, D. Michael McFarland, Mark J. Rood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present alternative methods for estimating spatial surrogates and temporal factors for ammonia (NH3) emissions from chemical fertilizer usage (CFU), in the USA, at spatial and temporal scales used to simulate regional air quality and deposition of reactive nitrogen to ecosystems. The newly developed Improved Spatial Surrogate (ISS) method incorporates year-specific fertilizer sales data, high resolution and year-specific crop maps, and local crop nitrogen demands to allocate NH3 emissions at 4 km × 4 km grid cells. Results are compared with the commonly used gridded emission estimates by the Sparse Matrix Operator Kernel Emissions (SMOKE) preprocessor. NH3 emissions over Central Illinois in the USA, estimated at the 4 km × 4 km grid level in SMOKE and ISS methods, exhibit differences between -10% and 120%, with 58% of the grid cells exhibiting more than ±10% difference. Application of the ISS method for a larger domain over the Midwest USA, at 4km×4km, reflected similar differences. We also employed the Denitrification Decomposition (DNDC) model to develop daily temporal factors of NH3 emissions from CFU using multi-site and multi-year analyses. Ratio of temporal factors estimated by SMOKE and DNDC methods is 0.54 ± 2.35, with DNDC identifying daily emission peaks 2.5–8 times greater than SMOKE. Identified emission peaks will be useful for future air quality modeling efforts to understand particulate matter episodes, as well as trends in regional particulate matter formation and nitrogen deposition for Midwest USA, using the proposed NH3 emissions inventory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6232-6246
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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