Human activities have progressively caused a plethora of trends and patterns of environmental disturbances across time and space. It has been observed that there has been a shift in the equilibrium of essential nutrients in the ecosystem, resulting in a nutrient overload. This inturn has led to major problems like soil degradation, biodiversity loss and pollution of freshwaters.
A new study under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution has revealed the long-term effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on the soil of Europe.
Published in the scientific journal Biogeosciences, the research revealed that nitrogen emissions and ammonia emissions (NH3) from industrial production, household consumption, transport and even agricultural practices are among the major drivers of drivers of soil pollution. In the long run, this also affects freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.
Utilizing data and scientific models developed under the Convention’s Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP), the research observed a rising pattern of soil pollution triggered by decreasing deposition of atmospheric nitrogen. The research paper documents that the eastern parts of Europe were contaminated the most.
While mitigation efforts in the 1980’s by Parties to the Air Convention and its protocols helped reduce nitrogen pollution of soils in Europe, the research team revealed that a deteriorating pattern has been observed since the last 20 years.
The research documented an urgent need of paradigm shift in the planning process of nitrogen management at both global and regional levels, contributing to the establishment of an International Nitrogen Management System.
The study also poses a bigger question about the alarming degree of nitrogen and ammonia deposition in developing countries like India, where the levels of air pollution far exceeds that of most European countries.