Fossil Fuel Combustion

NO is formed by high-temperature chemical processes during combustion of fossil fuels, both from nitrogen present in fuel and from the oxidation of atmospheric N2 in the presence of 02. The distribution for this source is heavily weighted toward the Northern Hemisphere where most of the industrialized world resides. Detailed inventories are available for Canada, the United States, and western Europe describing the spatial patterns of NO, emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes [Wagner et al., 1986; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1986;

TABLE 1 Sources of Tropospheric NOr


Estimated Magnitude and Uncertainty (TgN/yr)

Principle Location of Emissions

Fossil fuels

22 (13-31)

Midlatitude continental surface


Biomass burning

7.9 (3-15)

Tropical continental surface

Soil emissions

7.0 (4-12)

Nonpolar continental surface


5.0 (2-20)

Tropical/subtropical continental



0.56 (0.45-1)

NH upper troposphère (30-60°N,

8-13 km)

Strat-Trop exchange

0.64 (0.4-1)

Midlatitude tropopause


0.5 (0-1)

Tropical/subtropical upwelling


NH3 oxidation

0.6 (0.3-3)

Free troposphère over industrial


Source: Adapted from Lee et al. (1997) and Bradshaw et al. (2000).


Source: Adapted from Lee et al. (1997) and Bradshaw et al. (2000).

Liibkert and Zierock, 1989], Almost one-half (44%) of the NOj emissions in the United States are from transportation, 33% from power plants, and 16% from industrial combustion. Similar inventories have been reported for western Europe (Liibkert and DeTilly, 1989) and Asia (Akimoto and Narstu, 1994). Based on 1985 data, approximately 84% of total emissions are accounted for by emissions from North America (28%), Europe (31%), and Asia (31%).

NO( emissions due to maritime shipping have been estimated to contribute as much as 3 TgN/yr to the global NO, budget (Corbett et al, 1999) with half of these emissions occurring in the North Atlantic. While small compared to the overall fossil fuel contribution of 22TgN/yr, NO, emissions from seagoing vessels could prove important over the open ocean in and around shipping lanes far removed from major continental sources (Lawrence and Crutzen, 1999).

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