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Title:Nitrogen from the Atmosphere
Author(s):National Atmospheric Deposition Program
Subject(s):Air pollution
Nitrogen
Atmospheric deposition
Reactive nitrogen
Environmental monitoring
Ammonia
Nitrate
Geographic Coverage:North America
Abstract:Nitrogen surrounds us. Nitrogen (N) is required by all life on earth. N is also the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, existing primarily as N2, a form of N that almost all plants and animals cannot use. It is therefore termed non-reactive nitrogen (Nn-r). Reactive forms of nitrogen (Nr), nitrogen that can be used by organisms, is a small fraction of what’s naturally found in the atmosphere. However, humans learned in the early 1900s to change N2 into reactive forms of N to create N-based fertilizers to increase plant growth. Humans also began to burn fossil fuels, changing Nn-r to Nr. This Nr is the N that is most important to us.

Reactive nitrogen causes a cascade of effects.
Nr can enter ecosystems from the air or through fertilizer application to soils, having unintended effects. Nr cycles through many other forms that can move from the soil into water resources or to and from the atmosphere. For example, too much Nr in streams can cause overgrowth of algae that chokes out fish. Too much Nr in soils can damage non-crop plants, such as trees, and change soil chemistry. Nr that goes back to the air contributes to air pollution such as acid rain, ozone, and visibility problems. Nitrogen can then fall back to land and water in wet deposition (rain or snow), or as dry deposition of Nr particles and gases.

Issue Date:2016-10
Publisher:Illinois State Water Survey
Series/Report:ISWS Miscellaneous Publication MP-207
NADP Brochure 2016-01
Genre:Other
Type:Text
Language:English
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/103674
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Peer Reviewed:is peer reviewed
Rights Information:Copyright ... University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved. This document is a product of the Illinois State Water Survey, and has been selected and made available by the Illinois State Water Survey and the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is intended for research and educational use, and proper attribution is requested.
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-05-03


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