13.08.2008 | General newsTask Force on Reactive Nitrogen – a Step towards Integrated Policies
Set up stems from COST Action 729 and ESF Programme
Under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Trans-boundary AirPollution, a Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN) has been established which will act as the policy framework for dealing with the nitrogen cascade in Europe. This Task Force stems from COST Action 729 on Assessing and Managing Nitrogen Fluxes in the Atmosphere-Biosphere System in Europe and the European Science Foundation Programme: Nitrogen in Europe (NinE): Current Problems and Future Solutions.
The TFRN is the first official body to develop technical scientific information and options which can be used for strategic development across the UNECE, creating a more integrated approach to mitigating nitrogen. Its aim is to start investigating more holistic approaches to managing reactive nitrogen, linking the threats to air quality and biodiversity loss with other issues like water quality and greenhouse gas balance.
Quantification of the different fluxes and their interactions is essential to provide the basis for assessment tools to combat nitrogen accumulation in the environment. However, efficient and fast measurement techniques for many important nitrogen species are still lacking. Within COST 729 a Swiss project conducted by the Laboratory for Air Pollution/Environmental Technology of Empa aims at developing new tools to fill this gap. It combines a range of established concepts to determine N-flux with a high-performance technique in infrared laser spectroscopy, which is based on novel quantum cascade lasers (QCL). The new system was already successfully tested at the Swiss CarboEurope and NitroEurope Grassland site near Oensingen on the Swiss plateau allowing for integrated measurements at the field scale. First results indicate that the spectrometer and sampling concept are suitable for eddy covariance flux measurements of CH4, N2O, H2O and NO2.
The next step for the COST and ESF programmes is to produce a European Nitrogen Assessment report that will incorporate current nitrogen issues, the cascade effects as well as interactions and feedback. It will provide valuable insight for governments and other stakeholders on the balance between the benefits of fixed nitrogen to society (fertilizer, food, fuel and energy) and the different adverse effects of excess nitrogen in the environment.
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Source: News from the COST Office, Issue No 9, July 2008