Monitoring programme: ​Eutrophication
Programme topic: Inputs

SUB-PROGRAMME: Nutrient inputs from atmosphere

​table of contentS

Regional coordination

Purpose of monitoring

Monitoring concepts

Assessment requirements

Data providers and access


Regional coordination

The monitoring of this sub-programme is: fully coordinated. Air emission and atmospheric deposition monitoring are coordinated by EMEP.

  • Common monitoring guidelines: at EMEP

  • Common quality assurance programme: at EMEP

  • Common database:  EMEP


Purpose of monitoring (q4K)

Follow up of progress towards:

Baltic Sea Action Plan​ (BSAP)​ ​ ​ ​Segments Eutrophication
​Ecological objectives ​​Concentrations of nutrients close to natural levels
Nutrient reduction scheme: Maximum Allowable Inputs (MAI) and Country-Allocated Reduction Targets (CART) ​
Marine strategy framework directive (MSFD) ​ ​ ​Descriptors D5 Eutrophication
​Criteria (Q5a)
5.1 Nutrient levels
Pressures and impacts (Q5c)

Nutrient and organic matter enrichment:

Inputs of fertilisers and other nitrogen and phosphorus-rich substances (e.g. from point and diffuse sources, including agriculture, aquaculture, atmospheric deposition.

Other relevant legislation (Q8a)

Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy

Gothenburg Protocol of the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP)

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on National Emission Ceilings for certain pollutants (NEC Directive)

Directive 2008/1/EC of the European Parliament and the Council concerning integrated pollution prevention and control


Assessment of: (Q4k)

Pressures X temporal trends,
spatial distribution
Human activities
causing the pressures
X temporal trends,
spatial distribution
Effectiveness of measures X temporal trends,
spatial distribution
Scale of data aggregation for assessments: (Q10a)
HELCOM assessment unit Level 1: Baltic Sea
​HELCOM assessment unit Level 2: Subbasin
HELCOM assessment unit Level 3: Subbasins with coastal and offshore division​
HELCOM assessment unit Level 4: Subbasins with coastal WFD division
Other: HELCOM PLC Sub-division

Monitoring concepts table

Coordination Elements
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9a (Q5c)
Q9c, Q9d
Q9e, 9f
Q9h, 9i
Spatial resolution
Q9g, 9i
Link to HELCOM core indicators Link to
MSFD GES characteristics

Spatial scope
Monitoring started
CPs monitoring
NOx Input level of chemical/nutrient/pollutant from atmosphere
Monthly ​​EMEP grid 50x50 km -

SE: 1979
All HELCOM Contracting Parties (modelling covers whole drainage area)
NHx Input level of chemical/nutrient/pollutant from atmosphere
Other Monthly ​​EMEP grid 50x50 km -

All HELCOM Contracting Parties (modelling covers whole drainage area)


Brief description of monitoring

Full description in EMEP/MSC - W TECHNICAL REPORT 2 / 2013 (Appendix B).

​Element / parameter
NOx / Input level of nutrient/pollutant from atmosphere
NHx / Input level of nutrient/pollutant from atmosphere

Dry/wet deposition of oxidized and reduced nitrogen + total nitrogen.

Annual total emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia are officially reported every year to the UN ECE Secretariat by the HELCOM Contracting Parties and compiled by EMEP/MSC-W. The methodology for data collection is based on combination of emission measurements and emission estimates based on activity data and emission factors.

The atmospheric depositions of oxidized and reduced nitrogen are calculated with the latest version of EMEP/MSC-W model in Oslo. The latest available official emission data for the HELCOM countries are used in the model computations. Both official data and expert estimates were used for modeling atmospheric transport and deposition of nitrogen compounds to the Baltic Sea.

Atmospheric depositions of oxidized and reduced nitrogen were computed for the entire EMEP domain, which includes Baltic Sea basin and catchment. EMEP/MSC-W model is a multi-pollutant, three-dimensional Eulerian model which takes into account processes of emission, advection, turbulent diffusion, chemical transformations, wet and dry depositions and inflow of pollutants into the model domain. Complete description of the model and its applications is available on the EMEP web.

Calculations of atmospheric transport and depositions of nitrogen compounds are performed annually two years in arrears on the basis of emission data officially submitted by Parties to CLRTAP Convention and expert estimates. The chemical Transport Model EMEP/ MSC-W is used.

For more information: Simpson, D., Benedictow, A., Berge, H., Bergstrom, R., Emberson, L.D., Fagerli, H.,Flechard, C.R., Hayman, G.D., Gauss, M., Jonson, J.E., Jenkin, M.W., Nyri, A, Richter,C., Semeena, V.S, Tsyro, S., Tuovinen, J.-P., Valdebenito,A., and Wind, P., The EMEP MSC-W chemical transport model technical description. Atmospheric Chem-istry and Physics, 12, 7825-7865.


There are gaps in time series of national emissions which have to be corrected by experts. No official information about the uncertainty of provided nitrogen emission data have been sent to EMEP from both EMEP and HELCOM Contracting Parties and hence further work on emission uncertainty is required. Submitted emissions data are passing through QA/QC procedure and stored in the EMEP Centre for Emission inventories and Projections (CEIP) in Vienna, Austria. Reviews about the consistency, comparability and trends of national inventories are available at CEIP.  There are gaps in time series of national emissions which have to be corrected by experts.

The results of the EMEP Unified model are routinely compared with available measurements at EMEP and HELCOM stations. The comparison of calculated versus measured data indicates that the model predicts the observed air concentrations of nitrogen within the accuracy of approximately 30%.  Further work is required on reducing uncertainties in emission data and better parameterization of physical processes in the EMEP Unified model.

Frequency Every year
Spatial Scope EMEP uses a 50×50 km grid cell for calculation of deposition and input data are also aggregated using the PLC water sub-basin division to allow for harmonized HELCOM pollution load assessments covering both air- and waterborne inputs.
Spatial resolution 50×50 km grid



Assessment requirements

Monitoring requirements and gaps

Monitoring is to be carried out to fulfill assessment requirements of HELCOM ecological objectives that are specified through HELCOM core indicators. The requirements on monitoring can include number of stations, the sampling frequency and replication.

​Monitoring requirements

Data on atmospheric deposition of nitrogen is needed to assess the amount of nutrient input to the sea to allow for follow-up of effectiveness of implemented measures (under e.g. BSAP, Gothenburg Protocol, National Emission Ceiling Directive), for the core pressure indicator on nutrient inputs as well as follow-up of progress towards the agreed BSAP country-wise nutrient reduction targets (CART).

Pressure data should also be useable for HELCOM holistic assessments (i.e. pressure index).

Deposition data is calculated as total annual inputs per 50*50 km grid (available via the EMEP website).

(EMEP Steering Body has decided to have this 0.1x0.1 degree grid as the official reporting resolution by 2017 where all countries are requested to deliver emission data in this resolution by then. So until then HELCOM submission will still be in 50km resolution, same as the official emission reporting submissions.)

​Gaps Air emission and atmospheric deposition monitoring are coordinated by EMEP. Although there are rather many stations, not all of those are measuring all components. Also not all stations have long time series. Not all national monitoring stations are included in the list of "HELCOM stations" but could be used by EMEP.  According to EMEP there are some problems with the representativeness of the stations that cause challenges when verifying the EMEP model results.  Thorough analysis of the monitoring data would improve the understanding of the development in the atmospheric deposition and also offer recommendations on how to improve and possibly expand monitoring.


Targets - Adequacy for assessment of progress with targets (Art. 10) (Q6b)

This section indicates whether the programme provides suitable and sufficient data and information to enable assessment of progress towards achievement of the relevant environmental targets (using indicators identified by MS under Art. 10).

​Suitable and sufficient data? Yes
Established methods for assessment?
Adequate capacity to perform assessments? ​Yes
​​Will the data and information collected enable the regular updating of targets? (Q6c)
Description of Targets (Q6d)

The BSAP nutrient reduction scheme’s maximum allowable inputs (MAI) of nutrients can be implemented by measures taken to reduce waterborne and airborne nutrient inputs. Also the effects of reductions in air emissions outside the HELCOM area (following implementation of Gothenburg Protocol) are expected to contribute to fulfillment of MAI. Annual datasets of contributions for different sources (countries and shipping) to N deposition to the Baltic, allows for follow-up of progress towards MAI and country-wise allocation of nutrient reduction (CART).

It should be noted that the MAI (which can be considered as an “environmental target") does not include separate targets for waterborne and airborne inputs. Also the core pressure indicator on nutrient inputs combine airborne and nutrient inputs.

​Gap-filling date Targets (Q6e) Considered adequate in 2014
​Plans for targets (Q6f) Not applicable - targets exists.



Measures - nature of the activity and/or pressure covered by the programme (spatial distribution, frequency of activity)
How the monitoring is considered adequate to identify which activities and pressures that are causing environmental degradation and how it can help identifying new measures (Q7b)


​Spatial distribution/extent of activity ​EMEP Contracting Parties report emissions of heavy metals from different sources and these data are used to model deposition on the Baltic Sea. Data covers the whole EMEP domain. Allows assessment of the main contributors to the deposition to the Baltic Sea – of the substances listed in the parameters table.
​Intensity of activity ​Data on annual emissions reported by countries to EMEP annually
​Temporal changes in activity ​Data series available covering emissions and deposition since 1995
​Type of activity (within broad category f, e.g. fisheries, tourism/recreation) ​Emissions from e.g. industries, agriculture, combustion and other sources (more information in EMEP report)



Measures - Adequacy for assesssments of measures (Art. 13) (Q7e)
The monitoring supports assessment of follow up measures.


​​Adequate data?


Established methods for assessment? ​Yes
​​Adequate understanding of GES? ​No
Adequate capacity to perform assessments? ​Yes
​​Addresses activities/pressures? ​Yes
​​Addresses effectiveness of measures? ​No
​​Gap-filling date Activities and Measures (Q7f) Considered adequate in 2014

In time for the next assessment due in 2018



Data providers and access

​Data access point EMEP Database
Data type (Q10c) Processed Data sets​, Modelled data
Data availability (Q10c)​ EMEP website
​Data access (Q10c) Open access​
​INSPIRE standard (Q10c)  
When will data become available? (Q10c) Results are approved at the EMEP steering group meetings in September (2 years in arrears)
Data update frequency (Q10c) ​Yearly
Describe how the data and information from the programme will be made accessible to the EC/EEA Data is available at EMEP website

​​Contact points in the Contracting parties Contact point to national monitoring programmes will be added
​Has the data been used in HELCOM assessments?



EMEP/MSC - W TECHNICAL REPORT 2 / 2013 as well as previous annual reports by EMEP to HELCOM

Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheet on emissions and depositions of nitrogen

Recommendation 24-1 Monitoring of airborne pollution load