KOMPAS.com – Animal manure is perhaps not a big thing that needs to be questioned. But apparently the thing we underestimate can be seen from the space that has enveloped the earth.
The thing seen from space is certainly not the actual form of animal waste, but the ammonia gas produced by the impurities.
Ammonia gas (NH3) is a colorless waste gas that is formed when nitrogen and hydrogen are combined. This gas is available all over the world, but it usually comes from animal waste, whether it is urine or feces.
When large amounts of animal manure rot, for example on a large farm, released ammonia gas can join other compounds and pollute air, water and soil.
This exposure can cause lung disease to death, crop failure and the death of massive animals.
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The detection and regulation of ammonia emissions can help to prevent these hazards.
With this in mind, a team of scientists led by nine researchers from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium merged nine years of satellite data to create the most comprehensive map of ammonia gas in the atmosphere.
Ammonia cards made by the ULB team have been published in the journal together with their reports nature published on Wednesday (05/12/2018).
In the paper they revealed that there are more than 200 points worldwide with ammonia emissions, of which two-thirds had never been identified before.
"Our results show that this must completely review the inventory of anthropogenic ammonia emissions and take into account their evolution over time," the experts wrote.
Where are you from?
For their new research, experts analyzed data collected between 2007 and 2016 by the MetOp satellite, three meteorological satellites launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) to observe various components in the Earth's atmosphere, including ammonia gas.
These data reveal 242 ammunition points or emission zones less than 50 kilometers in diameter and 178 larger emission zones.
The team also used satellite images to confirm the source of the ammonia emission zone. They found that at least 241 points are related to human activities.
Of these, 83 are associated with intensive livestock farming and 158 are associated with other industries, in particular plantations that use ammonia-based fertilizers.
Meanwhile, the only natural ammonia point is on Lake Natron, Tanzania. The ammonia zone in this area is strongly suspected by the abundance of algae and other decaying material in the dried mud.
Minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills make the water very alkaline, so that it contains a pH of up to 10.5 (for comparison, ammonia has a pH of about 11).
By seeing changes in ammonia levels in the atmosphere around the world, researchers can see when agriculture or factories are being opened, closed and expanded.
For example, the ammonia point that flourished in Xinjiang, China in 2012, coincided with the opening of a fertilizer factory there.
More importantly, the map shows that people have underestimated the amount of ammonia released because of their activity in the atmosphere.
According to experts, two-thirds of the hotspots found were never identified by previous environmental surveys. While other hotspots have been reported significantly.
But this allocation still has disadvantages and limitations due to the difficulty of calculating satellites for ammonia emissions in windy areas such as mountains and beaches.
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"Ammonia emissions in many countries are currently increasing, even in the European Union, which has committed to reduce emissions to six percent by 2020 and 19 percent by 2030 compared to 2005," said Mark Sutton and Clare Howard, two researchers from the NERC Center for Ecology & Hydrology in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was not involved in this study.
"Combined with an atmospheric model, satellite technology provides a valuable independent tool to check whether the state is truly achieving its goals," they said.