Ammonia composition revealed in Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

Researchers at the University of Iowa have explained in what composition is ammonia is distributed within Earth’s upper atmosphere. With the help of computer modeling, the study authors have found out that ammonia is after all released as a gas into the upper atmosphere of the Earth. 

This model has revealed a mystery-data which is supposed to be accumulated by the satellite which has shown the presence of ammonia in the upper atmosphere, particularly over certain parts of Asia at the time of summer season. This research is considered to be very important because it has been analyzing on a molecular scale as to how ammonia is being absorbed by liquid water droplets and thereafter is forced into the air during the time of convection at such a time when air moves above from the Earth’s surface and consequently freezes in the upper atmosphere.

According to Jun Wang who is the professor in the UI’s College of Engineering, has said that they predicted where ammonia should be and that their predictions have been in line with the satellite measurements. The chemical formula of ammonia is NH3. It has been successfully measured within Earth’s surface, however finding out the concentration in the upper atmosphere was a challenging task. In the year of 2016, satellite measurements found out that ammonia plumes were present over the different parts of South East Asia. This finding surprised the researchers since they believed that all of such ammonia should have been absorbed by the cloud water or even by the acid aerosols within the lower atmosphere, which is around three to four miles above the earth’s surface.

Such a revelation has undoubtedly kept the researchers in a dilemma. According to the experts and specially Wang, the prime question that has hit many of the scientists is the fact that how could ammonia rise up to such high of level, nine miles to be precise, above the Earth’s surface when it gets accustomed so well with the other species that are present within the atmosphere. The scientists are further curious to find out how it remains as a gas within the upper atmosphere. 

The researchers finally found out that the ammonia molecules remain intact within ice particles and the outside air. They are however released when the ice particles collide in the upper atmosphere. This phenomenon is the main reason behind the high quantity of NH3 in many parts of the world.