| Prominence of the tropics in the recent rise of global nitrogen pollution - :20505 | Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
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Prominence of the tropics in the recent rise of global nitrogen pollution
  • Published Date:
    2019
  • Source:
    Nature Communications, 10, 11.
Filetype[PDF-1.63 MB]


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  • Description:
    Nitrogen (N) pollution is shaped by multiple processes, the combined effects of which remain uncertain, particularly in the tropics. We use a global land biosphere model to analyze historical terrestrial-freshwater N budgets, considering the effects of anthropogenic N inputs, atmospheric CO2, land use, and climate. We estimate that globally, land currently sequesters 11 (10-13)% of annual N inputs. Some river basins, however, sequester >50% of their N inputs, buffering coastal waters against eutrophication and society against greenhouse gas-induced warming. Other basins, releasing >25% more than they receive, are mostly located in the tropics, where recent deforestation, agricultural intensification, and/or exports of land N storage can create large N pollution sources. The tropics produce 56 +/- 6% of global land N pollution despite covering only 34% of global land area and receiving far lower amounts of fertilizers than the extratropics. Tropical land use should thus be thoroughly considered in managing global N pollution.

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