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Trends in Nitrogen Deposition

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Partners

Logo

International Nitrogen Initiative

Contact point

Albert Bleeker: albert.bleeker@pbl.nl

Indicator description

The Nitrogen Deposition Indicator (NDI) shows where energy and food production have resulted in increased ammonia and nitrogen oxide emissions to the atmosphere on a global and regional basis, with subsequent increase in nitrogen depositions. There are large regions of the world where average nitrogen deposition rates exceed 10 kg N/ha/yr, greater than an order of magnitude increase compared with natural rates. These rates are well in excess of levels that have detrimental impacts on receiving ecosystems.

Related Aichi Targets

Primary target

8

Target 8:

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Primary target

8

Target 8:

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

8

Related SDGs

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GOAL 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Target 2.4| Relevant indicator

By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.

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GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Target 14.1| Relevant indicator

By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Target 15.2| Relevant indicator

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

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GOAL 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

E sdg goals icons individual rgb 14

GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

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E sdg goals icons individual rgb 14
E sdg goals icons individual rgb 15

Other related MEAs and processes

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CMS

Target 7| Relevant indicator

Multiple anthropogenic pressures have been brought to levels that are not detrimental to the conservation of migratory species or to the functioning, integrity, ecological connectivity and resilience of their habitats.

Indicator icon

IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

Chapter 2| Official indicator

Status and trends; indirect and direct drivers of change

Chapter 3| Official indicator

Progress towards meeting major international objectives related to biodiversity and ecosystem services

Indicator icon

IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

Chapter 4| Relevant indicator

Direct and indirect drivers of change in the context of different perspectives of quality of life

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Ramsar

Target 5| Relevant indicator

The ecological character of Ramsar Sites is maintained or restored, through effective planning and integrated management

Target 7| Relevant indicator

Sites that are at risk of change of ecological character have threats addressed.

Target 14| Relevant indicator

Scientific guidance and technical methodologies at global and regional levels are developed on relevant topics and are available to policy makers and practitioners in an appropriate format and language.

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CMS

Indicator icon

IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

Indicator icon

IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

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Ramsar

Cms logo blue4c
Indicator icon
Indicator icon
Ramsar.logo

Themes

Pollution

Partners

Logo

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Indicator description

The Nitrogen Deposition Indicator (NDI) shows where energy and food production have resulted in increased ammonia and nitrogen oxide emissions to the atmosphere on a global and regional basis, with subsequent increase in nitrogen depositions. There are large regions of the world where average nitrogen deposition rates exceed 10 kg N/ha/yr, greater than an order of magnitude increase compared with natural rates. These rates are well in excess of levels that have detrimental impacts on receiving ecosystems.

Contact point

Albert Bleeker: albert.bleeker@pbl.nl

Graphs / Diagrams

Figure 1. The global Nitrogen (N) deposition rate per km2 is projected to continue to increase by 2030 and 2100. Increases in N deposition are projected across Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, while decreases are projected in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Current storyline

Energy and food production have resulted in large increases in ammonia and nitrogen oxide emissions to the atmosphere on a global and regional basis, with subsequent increases in Nitrogen (N) deposition. The results of the Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Model Intercomparison Project (ACCMIP) show that in 2000 N deposition rates per km2 were highest in Europe and Asia, closely followed by North America. By 2030, the model projects an increase in N deposition rates in Asia, Africa and Central and South America, while decreases in N deposition are projected for North America, Europe and the Middle East. By 2100 particularly large increases are projected for South Asia, with 2100 values more than double their 2000 counterpart in some model scenarios.

Changing populations and lifestyles are likely to be the main driver behind N deposition increases, while stringent policies on emissions from agriculture, traffic and industry may play a part in decreasing local N deposition.

The global Nitrogen (N) deposition rate per km2 is projected to continue to increase by 2030 and 2100. Increases in N deposition are projected across Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, while decreases are projected in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Reactive Nitrogen (NHx and NOy) deposition [kg N km-2 yr-1] in selected world regions and 5 timeslices. Future scenarios (2030-2100) are based on the RCP2.6 climate mitigation scenario.

Source: INI, adapted from Lamarque et al, 2013.

Figure 2.

Interpretation of the indicator is straightforward. The larger the deposition of nitrogen from the atmosphere, the greater the potential for negative impacts, including biodiversity losses on receiving ecosystems.

The nitrogen deposition indicator shows the spatial distribution of the amount of nitrogen lost from the atmosphere and entering aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems via that pathway. In remote areas this is likely to be the only source of nitrogen (besides biological nitrogen fixation) and increasing levels may thus have effects on the integrity of these ecosystems.

In Europe and North-America levels of nitrogen deposition have decreased over the last few decades, due to policies targeting nitrogen emissions (from e.g. agriculture, traffic, industry). In some other areas in the world, these levels are likely to increase. This is due to an increasing population and a change in lifestyle.

Data and methodology

Coverage: Global/regional/national

Scale: Not aggregated

Time series available: 1860-2100

Next planned update: 2017

Possible disaggregations: Regional level, national level

Methodology: Ideally, the Nitrogen Deposition Indicator (NDI) would be based on measured data of both wet and dry deposition of reactive nitrogen across the world. However, lack of available measurement data calls for a different approach. Based on emission information of the major nitrogen species, the nitrogen deposition is calculated using a modelling approach. Such an atmospheric model is able to calculate the physical transport, chemical transformations and the ultimate deposition of nitrogen to the world’s ecosystems. The NDI reflects both natural and anthropogenic nitrogen emissions and changes observed since 1860 are generally the influence of anthropogenic actions. Not only the temporal changes since 1860 can be determined by means of this calculation approach, but also the spatial distribution over the different regions of the world. Another advantage of a calculation approach is the possibility of looking into the future, which however depends on the availability of adequate emission data. By doing so, possible future threats to the worlds ecosystems can be explored and abatement measures be evaluated.

National use of indicator

The NDI can be used on a global, regional, and national basis for a general understanding of nitrogen deposition patterns. For national use, model outputs more specifically focused on individual countries should be used as a supplementary tool for more definitive information. It is recommended that any modeling approach used should evaluate the separate nitrogen sources (provided the necessary emission data are available) like e.g. agriculture, industry, traffic, etc. In this way, intervention points can be assessed on higher spatial scales than would be possible with the global data, enabling an adequate evaluation of possible abatement measures.

For more information on producing national indicators of nitrogen deposition contact James Galloway, Albert Bleeker or Frank Dentener, associated with the International Nitrogen Initiative (jng@eservices.virginia.edu/albert.bleeker@pbl.nl/frank.dentener@jrc.ec.europa.eu).

Further resources

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Partners

Logo

International Nitrogen Initiative

Contact point

Albert Bleeker: albert.bleeker@pbl.nl