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Nitrogen-rich organic soils under warm well-drained conditions are global nitrous oxide emission hotspots

Journal article
Authors J. Pärn
J. T. A. Verhoeven
K. Butterbach-Bahl
N. B. Dise
S. Ullah
A. Aasa
S. Egorov
M. Espenberg
J. Järveoja
J. Jauhiainen
K. Kasak
Leif Klemedtsson
A. Kull
F. Laggoun-Défarge
E. D. Lapshina
A. Lohila
K. Lõhmus
M. Maddison
W. J. Mitsch
C. Müller
Ü Niinemets
B. Osborne
T. Pae
J. O. Salm
F. Sgouridis
K. Sohar
K. Soosaar
K. Storey
A. Teemusk
M. M. Tenywa
J. Tournebize
J. Truu
G. Veber
J. A. Villa
S. S. Zaw
Ü Mander
Published in Nature Communications
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 1-8
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 1-8
Language en
Keywords climate change, field survey, greenhouse gas, land use change, nitrous oxide, organic soil, ozone depletion, soil chemistry, soil nitrogen, soil temperature, stratosphere, water content, wetland
Subject categories Climate Research, Environmental Sciences


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and the main driver of stratospheric ozone depletion. Since soils are the largest source of N2O, predicting soil response to changes in climate or land use is central to understanding and managing N2O. Here we find that N2O flux can be predicted by models incorporating soil nitrate concentration (NO3 -), water content and temperature using a global field survey of N2O emissions and potential driving factors across a wide range of organic soils. N2O emissions increase with NO3 - and follow a bell-shaped distribution with water content. Combining the two functions explains 72% of N2O emission from all organic soils. Above 5 mg NO3 --N kg-1, either draining wet soils or irrigating well-drained soils increases N2O emission by orders of magnitude. As soil temperature together with NO3 - explains 69% of N2O emission, tropical wetlands should be a priority for N2O management.

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