Science Inventory

Connecting nitrogen deposition and ecosystem services


Compton, J., B. Hill, AND R. Dennis. Connecting nitrogen deposition and ecosystem services. Chapter 4.3, Pielke Sr., R. (ed.), Climate Vulnerability, Volume 5 - Ecosystem Functions and Services. Elsevier, Shannon, Ireland, , 22-33, (2013).


Human alteration of the nitrogen cycle has more than doubled the release of N to the environment, resulting in a cascade of effects on ecosystem structure and function. Many of these changes in structure and function in turn affect key ecosystem services that affect human health and well-being. Nitrogen release to the atmosphere affects human health, ecosystem production, biodiversity and a host of related ecosystem services. Human respiratory health and recreation had the highest damage costs per unit nitrogen of the services examined here. Nitrogen deposition is declining but the recovery of some services may lag behind the decline in deposition depending on the mechanisms influencing these services.


There are tremendous human health and well-being consequences of nitrogen release to the atmosphere, land and water. The effects on human health are related to the fundamental ecosystem services providing clean air and water for human consumption. Among the highest available damage cost estimates are those associated with respiratory and cardiac issues arising from breathing ozone and particulates formed through the release of NOx and NHx. Nitrate in drinking water continues to be a widespread issue in the US, posing a number of human health risks. Nearly two million Americans live in homes with water supply nitrate concentrations at or above the human consumption maximum contaminant level, and the number of nitrate violations in community drinking water systems continues to increase, doubling between 1998 and 2008. The issue of nitrate in drinking water is largely driven by agricultural inputs and atmospheric deposition is a small component.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 04/01/2013
Record Last Revised: 04/14/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 253996