An international team of scientists has developed a computer model that identifies mountains with high concentrations of nitrogen in the atmosphere.
The team used a model of the atmospheric nitrogen levels to determine the potential for mountain range carbon sequestration.
The model was created by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Atmospheric Science and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
It was designed to compare nitrogen levels across the globe in order to develop a model that could be used to identify mountains with low levels of nitrogen.
The models used a combination of atmospheric nitrogen measurements, satellite imagery and computer simulations to estimate the atmospheric concentrations of each nitrogen isotope.
“This work demonstrates the importance of monitoring the nitrogen levels at the surface of the earth,” said Prof. Yossi Alpher, a co-author of the study.
“This will be useful for the climate change mitigation community and will allow us to identify regions that are vulnerable to carbon emissions.”
The model shows that carbon sequestrations can occur in a range of mountain ranges in the North, Central and South American mountains.
The researchers used satellite imagery from the National Snow and Ice Data Center to estimate atmospheric concentrations.
“It shows that it’s possible to generate a map of the total nitrogen levels in the mountain ranges and we can use that to predict the potential carbon sequestrators,” said Dr. Yael Moti, one of the authors of the paper.
The data is available online in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
The study also identified the locations of the carbon dioxide emissions from the various mountain ranges.
The carbon dioxide levels in various mountain range areas have increased significantly in the past 50 years, due to the melting of the ice sheets that formed the mountain peaks, the study found.
However, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is limited due to changes in the rate of carbon uptake by the oceans.
The results indicate that it is possible to reduce the carbon emissions from mountain ranges by increasing the carbon uptake rates of the oceans, a key driver of carbon sequestrative activity, Alpher said.
The findings were published online in Science Advances.