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Climate- and crop-responsive emission factors significantly alter estimates of current and future nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser use

Flynn, H.C., Smith, J., Smith, K.A., Wright, J., Smith, P. and Massheder, J. (2005) Climate- and crop-responsive emission factors significantly alter estimates of current and future nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser use Global Change Biology, 11, (9), pp. 1522-1536. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2005.00998.x).

Record type: Article


The current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) default methodology (tier 1) for calculating nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from nitrogen applied to agricultural soils takes no account of either crop type or climatic conditions. As a result, the methodology omits factors that are crucial in determining current emissions, and has no mechanism to assess the potential impact of future climate and land-use change. Scotland is used as a case study to illustrate the development of a new methodology, which retains the simple structure of the IPCC tier 1 methodology, but incorporates crop- and climate-dependent emission factors (EFs). It also includes a factor to account for the effect of soil compaction because of trampling by grazing animals. These factors are based on recent field studies in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. Under current conditions, the new methodology produces significantly higher estimates of annual N2O emissions than the IPCC default methodology, almost entirely because of the increased contribution of grazed pasture. Total emissions from applied fertilizer and N deposited by grazing animals are estimated at 10 662 t N2O-N yr1 using the newly derived EFs, as opposed to 6 796 t N2O-N yr1 using the IPCC default EFs. On a spatial basis, emission levels are closer to those calculated using field observations and detailed soil modelling than to estimates made using the IPCC default methodology. This can be illustrated by parts of the western Ayrshire basin, which have previously been calculated to emit 89 kg N2O-N ha1 yr1 and are estimated here as 6.258.75 kg N2O-N ha1 yr1, while the IPCC default methodology gives a maximum emission level of only 3.75 kg N2O-N ha1 yr1 for the whole area. The new methodology is also applied in conjunction with scenarios for future climate- and land-use patterns, to assess how these emissions may change in the future. The results suggest that by 2080, Scottish N2O emissions may increase by up to 14%, depending on the climate scenario, if fertilizer and land management practices remain unchanged. Reductions in agricultural land use, however, have the potential to mitigate these increases and, depending on the replacement land use, may even reduce emissions to below current levels.

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Published date: 2005
Keywords: agricultural soils, climate change, emission factors, fertilizer, grazing, IPCC, land-use change, nitrous oxide, modelling, scotland


Local EPrints ID: 17399
ISSN: 1354-1013
PURE UUID: 7531af38-2b90-499f-b41a-c4d5688e78da

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Date deposited: 06 Sep 2005
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:38

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Author: H.C. Flynn
Author: J. Smith
Author: K.A. Smith
Author: J. Wright
Author: P. Smith
Author: J. Massheder

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