, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 15-23

The Effect of Future Climate Perturbations on N2O Emissions from a Fertilized Humid Grassland

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N2O emissions from a fertilized humid grassland near Cork, Ireland were continuously measured during 2003 using an eddy covariance system. For most of the year emissions were close to zero and 60% of the emissions occurred in eight major events of 2–20 days’ duration. Two hundred and seven kg ha−1 of synthetic N and 130 kg ha−1 organic N were applied over the year and the total measured annual N2O emission was 11.6 kg N ha−1. The flux data were used to test the prediction of N2O emissions by the DNDC (DeNitrification – DeComposition) model. The model predicted total emissions of 15.4 kg N ha−1, 32 % more than the observed emissions. On this basis the model was further used to simulate (a) background (non-anthropogenic) N2O emissions and (b) the effect on N2O emissions of future climate perturbations based on the Hadley Center model output of the IS92a scenario for Ireland. DNDC predicts 1.7 kg N ha−1 year−1 of background N2O emissions, accounting for 15% of the observed emissions. Climate shifts will increase total annual modeled N2O emissions from 15.4 kg N ha−1 to 22.4 kg N ha−1 if current levels of N applications are maintained, or to 21.2 kg N ha−1 if synthetic N applications are reduced to 170 kg N ha−1 to comply with recent EU water quality legislation. Thus the projected increase in N2O emissions due to climate change is far larger than the decrease expected from reduced fertilizer applications.