Estimating the impact of changing fertilizer application rate, land use, and climate on nitrous oxide emissions in Irish grasslands
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This study examines the impact of changing nitrogen (N) fertilizer application rates, land use and climate on N fertilizer-derived direct nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in Irish grasslands.
A set of N fertilizer application rates, land use and climate change scenarios were developed for the baseline year 2000 and then for the years 2020 and 2050. Direct N2O emissions under the different scenarios were estimated using three different types of emission factors and a newly developed Irish grassland N2O emissions empirical model.
There were large differences in the predicted N2O emissions between the methodologies, however, all methods predicted that the overall N2O emissions from Irish grasslands would decrease by 2050 (by 40–60 %) relative to the year 2000. Reduced N fertilizer application rate and land-use changes resulted in decreases of 19–34 % and 11–60 % in N2O emission respectively, while climate change led to an increase of 5–80 % in N2O emission by 2050.
It was observed in the study that a reduction in N fertilizer and a reduction in the land used for agriculture could mitigate emissions of N2O, however, future changes in climate may be responsible for increases in emissions causing the positive feedback of climate on emissions of N2O.
KeywordsNitrous oxide Nitrogen fertilizer Land-use change Climate change Scenario analysis
The authors are grateful to Keith Smith and Chris Flechard for their comments on the EF methodologies. We are also grateful to: Nicolas Dendoncker and Mark D. A. Rounsevell for providing data of the ATEAM project; Tido Semmler and Noreen Brennan of Met Eireann for data on the C4I project and Irish weather stations. We appreciate discussions with Mikhail Mishurov, Stan Lalor, James Humphreys, Bernard Hyde, Ute Skiba and Donna Giltrap, and for GIS and computing support from Xianli Xu and Ciaran Lewis and Anne Austin for editing. We acknowledge the support of the Irish Department of Agriculture under Research Stimulus Fund Programme (RSF 06 372) and the Environmental Protection Agency of Ireland under CelticFlux Programme (2001-CC/CD-(5/7)).
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