Ammonia fluxes in relation to cutting and fertilization of an intensively managed grassland derived from an inter-comparison of gradient measurements

C. Milford*, M. R. Theobald, E. Nemitz, K. J. Hargreaves, L. Horvath, J. Raso, U. Dämmgen, A. Neftel, S. K. Jones, A. Hensen, B. Loubet, P. Cellier, M. A. Sutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Quantification of ammonia (NH3) land-atmosphere exchange is required for atmospheric modelling and assessment of nitrogen deposition, yet flux measurement methods remain highly uncertain. To address this issue, a major inter-comparison of ammonia fluxes over intensively managed grassland was conducted during the GRAMINAE Integrated Experiment held in Braunschweig, Germany. In order to provide a robust dataset of ammonia exchange with the vegetation, four independent continuous flux gradient systems were operated. Three independently operated continuous wet denuders systems (AMANDA) were compared with a Wet Effluent Diffusion Denuder (mini-WEDD) system. Measurements were made at two distances from an adjacent livestock farm, allowing effects of advection to be quantified in a real landscape setting. Data treatment included filtering for instrument failure, disturbed wind sectors and unsuitable micrometeorological conditions, with corrections made for storage and advection errors. The inter-comparison demonstrated good agreement in measured ammonia concentrations and fluxes (relative standard error <20%) for some periods, although the performance of the ammonia analyzers were variable, with much poorer agreement on particular days. However, by using four systems, the inter-comparison was able to provide a robust mean estimate of continuous ammonia fluxes through the experiment. The observed fluxes were: a) small bi-directional fluxes prior to cutting (-64 to 42 ng NH3 m -2 s-1), b) larger diurnally-varying emissions following cutting (-49 to 703 ng NH3 m-2 s-1) and c) much larger emissions following fertilizer application (0 to 3820 ng NH3 m-2 s-1). The results are a salutary reminder of the uncertainty in unreplicated ammonia flux measurements, while the replication of the present study provides a uniquely robust dataset for the evaluation of ammonia exchange processes. It is clear that consistently reliable determination of ammonia concentrations remains the major measurement challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-834
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPrint publication - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


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