Nitrous oxide emissions from 2008 to 2012 for agricultural lands in the conterminous United States

Ogle, S. M.
Del Grosso, S. J.
Nevison, C.
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Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an important greenhouse gas (GHG) that also contributes to depletion of ozone in the stratosphere. Agricultural soils account for about 60% of anthropogenic N2O emissions. Most national GHG reporting to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change assumes nitrogen (N) additions drive emissions during the growing season, but soil freezing and thawing during spring is also an important driver in cold climates. We show that both atmospheric inversions and newly implemented bottom-up modeling approaches exhibit large N2O pulses in the northcentral region of the United States during early spring and this increases annual N2O emissions from croplands and grasslands reported in the national GHG inventory by 11%. Considering this, emission accounting in cold climate regions is very likely under-estimated in most national reporting frameworks. Current commitments related to the Paris Agreement and COP 26 emphasize reductions of carbon compounds. Assuming these targets are met, the importance of accurately accounting and mitigating N2O increases once CO2 and CH4 are phased out. Hence, the N2O emission under-estimate introduces additional risks into meeting long term climate goals.
The soil N2O emissions data for the conterminous United States were generated by the DayCent ecosystem model using the crop and land-use histories for survey locations in the USDA-NRCS National Resources Inventory (NRI). The model also requires weather and soils data. Daily maximum/minimum temperature and precipitation data are based on gridded weather data from the PRISM Climate Data product. Soils data are obtained from Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO). See Del Grosso et al. (2022) and US-EPA (2020) for more details about the simulations. Atmospheric inversions were conducted using the CarbonTracker Langrage framework (Nevison et al. 2018). These results provide total N2O fluxes for the domain using atmospheric observations and an inverse modeling, and are compared to the DayCent emissions to confirm seasonal patterns, particularly the role of freeze-thaw events in driving pulses of N2O emissions from agricultural lands.
Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Warner College of Natural Resources
Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL)
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greenhouse gas emissions
soil nitrous oxide emissions
ecosystem modeling
atmospheric inversion
Associated Publications
Del Grosso, S., S.M. Ogle, C. Nevison, R. Gurung, WJ. Parton, C. Wagner-Riddle, W. Smith, W. Winiwarter, B. Grante, M. Tenuta, E. Marx, S. Spencer, and S. Williams. 2022. A Gap in Nitrous Oxide Emissions Reporting Complicates Long Term Climate Mitigation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(31), e2200354119.
Nevison, C., Andrews, A., Thoning, K., Dlugokencky, E., Sweeney, C., Miller, S., Saikawa, E., Benmergui, J., Fischer, M., Mountain, M. and Nehrkorn, T. 2018. Nitrous Oxide Emissions Estimated with the CarbonTracker‐Lagrange North American Regional Inversion Framework. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32(3), pp.463-485.
US-EPA (2020) Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2018. EPA 430-R-20-002, United States Environmental Protection Agency.