Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 247–260 | Cite as

Simulation of N2O fluxes from Irish arable soils: effect of climate change and management

  • Mohamed AbdallaEmail author
  • Mike Jones
  • Mike Williams
Original Paper


Emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from an Irish arable soil were simulated using the DeNitrification–DeComposition (DNDC) model. The soil chosen was a free-draining sandy loam typical of the majority of cereal growing land in Ireland, and one that has been previously used to test and validate DNDC-model. DeNitrification–DeComposition model was considered suitable to estimate N2O fluxes from Irish arable soils however, underestimated the flux by 24%. The objectives of this study were to estimate future N2O fluxes from a spring barley field under conventional (moulboard plowing) and reduced (chisel plowing) tillage and different N-fertilzer application rates. Three climate scenarios, a baseline of measured climatic data from the weather station at Kilkenny and a high- and low-temperature-sensitive scenarios predicted by the Hadley Global Climate Model (HadCM4) based on the AB1 emission scenario of the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were investigated. For conventional tillage under all scenarios, three peaks of N2O emissions were predicted; an early spring peak coinciding mostly with soil plowing, a mid/late spring peak coinciding with fertilizer application and an early autumn peak coinciding with residue incorporation and onset of autumn rainfall. Under reduced tillage, due to the less amount of soil disturbance, the early spring peak was not predicted. In all cases, the total amount of N2O emitted in the late spring peak due to fertilizer application was less than the sum of the other peaks. Under climate change, using the high-temperature-increase scenario, DNDC predicted an increase in N2O emissions from both conventional and reduced tillage, ranging from 58% to 88% depending upon N application rate. In contrast, annual fluxes of N2O either decreased or increased slightly in the low temperature increase scenario relative to N application (−26 to +16%). Outputs from the model indicate that elevated temperature and precipitation increase N mineralization and total denitrification leading to greater fluxes of N2O. Annual uncertainties due to the use of two different future climate scenarios were significantly high, ranging from 74% to 95% and from 71% to 90% for the conventional and reduced tillage.


Climate change Nitrous oxide Management Arable soils 



This work was funded by the EU sixth framework program (contract EVK2-CT2001-00105) and Irish EPA. We are grateful to the Irish National Meteorological Service Research Group (Met Éireann) for providing us with the HadMC4 climate projections and good collaboration. We are also grateful to Pete Smith, from the University of Aberdeen, for his valuable comments on the final draft.


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© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany, School of Natural SciencesTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland

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