Professional summary

Research Interests

Since 1986 the work of Prof. Sutton has focused primarily on the emission, behavior and fate of ammonia in the atmosphere.  His work spans a wide range of disciplines from micrometeorology and atmospheric chemistry to plant ecology and policy analysis.  The largest aspect of the work has concerned the measurement of ammonia biosphere-atmosphere exchange with terrestrial ecosystems, resulting in new conceptual and quantitative models.  Prof. Sutton has developed a suite of tools to quantify the impacts of ammonia over the UK for Defra and other government organisations, including the ‘FRAME’, ‘SCAIL’ and ‘EMEP4UK’ models, and the National Ammonia Monitoring Network.

Prof. Sutton has led a series of key national and international collaborative projects on ammonia.  In the 1990s he was the coordinator of the European Commission projects: EXAMINE (EXchange of AMmonia IN European ecosystems; 8 institutes) and GRAMINAE (GRassland AMmonia INteractions Across Europe, 8 institutes).  His involvement in the latter led to him being appointed Executive Secretary of the European Commission “Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Initiative (TERI)”.  

In recent years, Prof. Sutton has focused on developing the links between ammonia and other nitrogen compounds in the environment.  He coordinated the LANAS (Landscape Analysis of Nitrogen and Abatement Strategies) project of the NERC GANE programme and coordinated the NitroEurope Integrated Project, 2006-2011 (€28M, 64 partner institutes) addressing the net effect of nitrogen on the European greenhouse gas balance. In developing the European platform established by NitroEurope, Prof Sutton led the first European Nitrogen Assessment, under the European Science Foundation NinE (Nitrogen in Europe), published by Cambridge University Press in April 2011.

He is chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), a joint project of the IGBP and SCOPE and is co-chair of the Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN), a body of the UN-ECE Geneva Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. His work in these areas has included preparing options for revision of the UNECE Gothenburg Protocol and developing a vision of how the global nitrogen challenge can be communicated to society.  His 4-minute video distilling the findings of the European Nitrogen Assessment can now be found on YouTube. 

Since 2012 Prof Sutton has been working with the United Nations Environment Programme supporting their work through the Global Programme of Action on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), leading the provision of science advice the GPA 3rd Intergovernmental Review (IGR-3, Manila). This subsequently led to his leadership of the Global Overview on Nutrient Management for UNEP ‘Our Nutrient World’ (2013) and his spearhearding of the ‘International Nitrogen Management System’ as a developing mechanism of science support for the the emerging ‘nitrogen policy arena’.

Brief CV

Career Details

2011-present           Honorary Professor, University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences.

1992-present           (Natural Environment Research Council) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (formerly Institute of Terrestrial Ecology), Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB.

2011-present           Individual Merit Promotion (IMP, Band 2). 

2004-2011               Individual Merit Promotion (IMP, Band 3).

2003-2007               Head CEH Atmospheric Sciences Division

1998-2004               Principal Scientific Officer (Grade 7 / Band 4).

1994-1998               Senior Scientific Officer (Band 5)

Jun 1994-Feb 1995 Secondment to Department of the Environment, London: Development of research programme and policy analysis on air pollution.

1992-1994               Higher Scientific Officer (Band 6).                                           

1991-92                   Research Fellow.  Dept. Meteorology, University of Edinburgh.

1990-91                   Research Associate.  Dept. Meteorology, University of Edinburgh.

1986                        Freelance literature research into environmental acidification.  International Energy Agency (Coal Research) London.



2020-present        Nutrient Management Expert Group (NMEG), established by UK Government. Member.

2019-present        UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH). Hub Director and Chair of the Executive Board.

2018-present        UN Environment: Committee of Permanent Representatives. Member, representing UKCEH, INMS, INI, TFRN and GPNM.

2017-present        UN Environment: Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM).  Vice Chair.

2014-present        European Nitrogen Expert Panel. Member.

2014-2016            Foresight Expert Panel on the Junction of Health, Environment and Bioeconomy (JHEB) of the European Commission (DGRI).  Expert Panel Member.

2012-2018            International Nitrogen Initiative, INI (a joint activity of SCOPE and IGPB). Chair.

2012-2017            Global Partnership on Nutrient Management, GPNM (a network coordinated by UNEP). Steering Group Member.  

2011-2016            ÉCLAIRE (EU 7th Framework Programme). Project Coordinator and Chair of the Executive Steering Group.

2007-present        Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen, TFRN (UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution). Co-chair.

2010-2013            COST 0804 (ABBA: Advancing the integrated monitoring of trace gas exchange between biosphere and atmosphere). National representative to the Management Committee.

2007-2013            Finnish Academy of Sciences 'Centre of Excellence in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Meteorology of Atmospheric Composition and Climate Change'. Member of the Advisory Board.

2007-2012            International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).  Coordinator of the European Centre and member of the INI Steering Committee.

2006-2011            Nitrogen in Europe, NinE (ESF Framework Programme).  Vice Chair of the Steering Committee and coordinator of the European Nitrogen Assessment (ENA).

2006-2011            COST 729 (Atmosphere biosphere interactions of nitrogen).  National representative to the Management Committee.

2005-2011            NitroEurope Integrated Project (EU 6th Framework Programme). Project Coordinator and Chairman of the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC).



Summary Qualifications    

1986    A.R.C.S. (Botany, Imperial College);  B.Sc. (Botany, University of London)

1990    PhD. University of Edinburgh

            Title: The surface/ atmosphere exchange of ammonia

Panels, committees and memberships

1992    Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society



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VIDEO LINK:  A message from the European Nitrogen Assessment