Elevated NH3 and NO2 air concentrations and nitrogen deposition rates in the vicinity of a highway in Southern Bavaria

Manfred Kirchner, Gert Jakobi, Ernst Feicht, Markus Bernhardt, Anton Fischer

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A transect study consisting of air concentration and deposition measurements of nitrogen compounds was performed to estimate the potential influence of car emissions on the nitrogen input to ecosystems. Therefore, two transects each consisting of 4 plots, the first in a coniferous forest and the second one in an extensively farmed grassland, were installed perpendicular to a highway south of Munich (Bavaria). Both profiles were influenced mainly by car emissions and showed only small local influences caused by agricultural activities. In the framework of a pilot study based upon denuder measurements we found a strong temporal dependency of both nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ammonia (NH3) concentrations on traffic density. In the main study air concentrations of NO2 and NH3 were measured by passive samplers; they used as the basis for the estimation of dry deposition. These estimations have been compared with the results of analyses from simultaneously conducted canopy throughfall deposition and open air bulk measurements of nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH 4+). Additionally, within the forest transect the variety of different soil vegetation species was recorded and quantified. We obtained a strong gradient of gas concentrations along both profiles. Whereas the bulk deposition remained quite constant along the non-forested transect, the nitrogen throughfall deposition rate diminished substantially with the distance from the highway. The deposition rate at the forest edge was twice of that inside. The nitrogen load estimated for the examined forest in the vicinity of the highway was comparable to other forest ecosystems situated near diffuse emission sources from agriculture. It could be shown that changes in soil composition and soil vegetation along the forest transect are caused by decreasing nitrogen deposition with distance from the highway. The application of road salt in winter leads to further impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4531-4542
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number25
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Emissions
  • Forest edge
  • Ground vegetation
  • Road traffic
  • Transect


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