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Mapping ammonia risk on sensitive habitats in Ireland

Kelleghan, David B.; Hayes, Enda T.; Everard, Mark; Curran, Thomas P.

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David B. Kelleghan

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Enda Hayes
Prof in Air Quality & Carbon Management/School Director (Research & Enterprise)

Mark Everard
Associate Professor in Ecosystem Services

Thomas P. Curran


© 2018 Elsevier B.V. The aim of this study was to provide a simple, cost-effective, risk-based map of terrestrial areas in Ireland where environmental quality may be at risk from atmospheric ammonia. This risk-based approach identifies Natura 2000 sites in Ireland at risk from agricultural atmospheric ammonia, collating best available data using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). In mapping ammonia risk on sensitive habitats (MARSH), the method identifies sources of ammonia, classifying them on a scale of risk from 0 to 5. These sources are subsequently summed based on a weighting determined by their contribution to national emissions divided by their potentially impacted area. A Pearson's correlation coefficient of 0.72 allows for concentrations from United Kingdom's FRAME modelling to be applied to the MARSH model, which are corrected based on recent monitoring. Applying Designation Weighted Indicators (DWI), the MARSH model predicts that 80.7, 34.3 and 5.9% of Natura 2000 sites in Ireland may exceed ambient concentrations of 1, 2, and 3 μg/m3, respectively. A Nitroindex map of Ireland based on available lichen records was also developed and is presented as part of this study. This Nitroindex was used to identify areas where impacts have already been recorded, thus informing the classification of sites “at-risk”. The combination of both the MARSH and Nitroindex models ascertains which Natura 2000 sites are most at risk, thereby providing valuable data to relevant authorities. The MARSH model acts as a first step towards screening and assessing Natura 2000 sites most at risk from atmospheric ammonia, providing a tool to demonstrate compliance with the National Emissions Ceilings Directive.


Kelleghan, D. B., Hayes, E. T., Everard, M., & Curran, T. P. (2019). Mapping ammonia risk on sensitive habitats in Ireland. Science of the Total Environment, 649, 1580-1589.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 29, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 30, 2018
Publication Date Feb 1, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2018
Publicly Available Date Aug 31, 2019
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Electronic ISSN 1879-1026
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 649
Pages 1580-1589
Keywords MARSH, ammonia, risk, Natura 2000, agriculture, National Emissions Ceilings Directive, Habitats Directive
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