A Comprehensive Quantification of Global Nitrous Oxide Sources and Sinks

Oct 7, 2020

Image: Nature

Nitrous oxide (N2O), like carbon dioxide, is a long-lived greenhouse gas that accumulates in the atmosphere. Over the past 150 years, increasing atmospheric N2O concentrations have contributed to stratospheric ozone depletion1 and climate change2, with the current rate of increase estimated at 2 per cent per decade.

Existing national inventories do not provide a full picture of N2O emissions, owing to their omission of natural sources and limitations in methodology for attributing anthropogenic sources.

Here we present a global N2O inventory that incorporates both natural and anthropogenic sources and accounts for the interaction between nitrogen additions and the biochemical processes that control N2O emissions. We use bottom-up (inventory, statistical extrapolation of flux measurements, process-based land and ocean modelling) and top-down (atmospheric inversion) approaches.

The recent growth in N2O emissions exceeds some of the highest projected emission scenarios3,4, underscoring the urgency to mitigate N2O emissions.

Access full article at Nature