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Nitrous Oxide Emissions Estimated With the CarbonTracker-Lagrange North American Regional Inversion Framework
  • Published Date:
    2018
  • Source:
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32(3), 463-485.
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Nitrous Oxide Emissions Estimated With the CarbonTracker-Lagrange North American Regional Inversion Framework
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  • Description:
    North American nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions of 1.60.3TgN/yr over 2008-2014 are estimated using the CarbonTracker-Lagrange regional inversion framework. The estimated N2O emissions are largely consistent with the EDGAR (Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research) global inventory and with the results of global atmospheric inversions but offer more spatial and temporal detail over North America. Emissions are strongest from the Midwestern Corn/Soybean Belt, which accounts for nearly one third of the total North American N2O source. The emissions are maximum in spring/early summer, consistent with a nitrogen fertilizer-driven source, and also show a late winter spike suggestive of freeze-thaw effects. Interannual variability in emissions across the primary months of fertilizer application is positively correlated to mean precipitation. The estimated N2O flux from the Midwestern Corn/Soybean Belt and the more northerly United States/Canadian wheat belt corresponds to 4.2-4.6% and 2.2-3.0%, respectively, of total synthetic+organic N fertilizer applied to those regions. Consideration of nonagricultural sources and additional N inputs from soybean N-2 fixation could reduce the N2O yield from the Midwestern Corn/Soybean Belt to similar to 2.2-2.4% of total N inputs. Plain Language Summary Emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions over North America were estimated based on an inverse model, in which atmospheric concentrations of N2O measured at 40 different National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sites were inverted to estimate surface sources. The estimated N2O emissions showed a clear hot spot in the Midwestern corn/soybean belt, which accounted for nearly one third (0.48 0.02 x 10(12)gN/yr) of the total North American N2O source (1.6 0.3x10(12)gN/yr). The emissions were maximum in spring and early summer, consistent with the timing of nitrogen fertilizer application to the corn/soybean belt. Interannual variability across 2007-2015 in the inferred emissions suggested that climate may interact with fertilizer to influence N2O source strength, with the warm drought year 2012 showing substantially lower emissions than other years.

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