Comparing a process-based agro-ecosystem model to the IPCC methodology for developing a national inventory of N2O emissions from arable lands in China
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- Li, C., Zhuang, Y., Cao, M. et al. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems (2001) 60: 159. doi:10.1023/A:1012642201910
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Nations are now obligated to assess their greenhouse gas emissions under the protocols of Article 4 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The IPCC has developed `spreadsheet-format' methodologies for countries to estimate national greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector. Each activity has a magnitude and emission rate and their product is summed over all included activities to generate a national total (IPCC, 1997). For N2O emissions from cropland soils, field studies have shown that there are important factors that influence N2O emissions at specific field sites that are not considered in the IPCC methodology. We used DNDC, a process-oriented agroecosystem model, to develop an unofficial national inventory of direct N2O emissions from cropland in China. We assembled county-scale data on soil properties, daily weather, crop areas, N-fertilizer use, livestock populations (for manure inputs to cropland), and agricultural management for the 2500 counties in mainland China. Total 1990 cropland area was 0.95 million km2. Total N-fertilizer use in China in 1990 was 16.6 Tg N. The average fertilization rate was 175 kg N ha−1 cropland. One-year simulations with DNDC were run for each crop type in each county to generate estimates of direct N2O emissions from soils. National totals were the sum of results for all crop simulations across all counties. Baseline simulations estimated that total N2O emission from arable land in China in 1990 was 0.31 Tg N2O-N yr−1. We also ran simulations with zero N-fertilizer input; the difference between the zero-fertilizer and the baseline run is an estimate of fertilizer-induced N2O emissions. The fertilizer-induced emission was 0.13 Tg N2O-N yr−1, about 0.8% of total N-fertilizer use (lower than the mean but within the IPCC range of 1.25±1.0%). We compared these results to our estimates of county-scale IPCC methodology emissions. Total emissions were similar but geographical patterns were quite different.