Nitrogen concentrations in mosses indicate the spatial distribution of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in Europe

Harmens H., Norris D. A. , Cooper D. M. , Mills G., Steinnes E., Kubin E., ...More

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, vol.159, no.10, pp.2852-2860, 2011 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 159 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.04.041
  • Page Numbers: pp.2852-2860


In 2005/6, nearly 3000 moss samples from (semi-)natural location across 16 European countries were collected for nitrogen analysis. The lowest total nitrogen concentrations in mosses (<0.8%) were observed in northern Finland and northern UK. The highest concentrations (>= 1.6%) were found in parts of Belgium, France, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria. The asymptotic relationship between the nitrogen concentrations in mosses and EMEP modelled nitrogen deposition (averaged per 50 km x 50 km grid) across Europe showed less scatter when there were at least five moss sampling sites per grid. Factors potentially contributing to the scatter are discussed. In Switzerland, a strong (r(2) = 0.91) linear relationship was found between the total nitrogen concentration in mosses and measured site-specific bulk nitrogen deposition rates. The total nitrogen concentrations in mosses complement deposition measurements, helping to identify areas in Europe at risk from high nitrogen deposition at a high spatial resolution. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.