Global Warming

Ammonia Detected in Earth’s Atmosphere for First Time

In an unexpected first, researchers have discovered ammonia in Earth’s lowest atmospheric layer, a new study said.

The detected ammonia was most concentrated in the upper layer of the troposphere above India and China, countries that have experienced population and economic booms in recent years. The gas (NH3) is most likely coming from livestock farming and fertilization in those countries, the researchers said.

Plants and crops need ammonia to grow, but too much of it can harm the environment and human health. However, the newly detected ammonia may have an unexpected silver lining: The gas is involved in cloud formation, so it may act as a cooling agent and help compensate for the human-caused greenhouse gas effect, the researchers said.

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