Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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For base year 2010, anthropogenic activities created ~210 (190 to 230) TgN of reactive nitrogen Nr from N2. This human-caused creation of reactive nitrogen in 2010 is at least 2 times larger than the rate of natural terrestrial creation of ~58 TgN (50 to 100 TgN yr−1) (Table 6.9, Section 1a). Note that the estimate of natural terrestrial biological fixation (58 TgN yr−1) is lower than former estimates (100 TgN yr−1, Galloway et al., 2004), but the ranges overlap, 50 to 100 TgN yr−1 vs. 90 to 120 TgN yr−1, respectively). Of this created reactive nitrogen, NOx and NH3 emissions from anthropogenic sources are about fourfold greater than natural emissions (Table 6.9, Section 1b). A greater portion of the NH3 emissions is deposited to the continents rather than to the oceans, relative to the deposition of NOy, due to the longer atmospheric residence time of the latter. These deposition estimates are lower limits, as they do not include organic nitrogen species. New model and measurement information (Kanakidou et al., 2012) suggests that incomplete inclusion of emissions and atmospheric chemistry of reduced and oxidized organic nitrogen components in current models may lead to systematic underestimates of total global reactive nitrogen deposition by up to 35% (Table 6.9, Section 1c). Discharge of reactive nitrogen to the coastal oceans is ~45 TgN yr−1 (Table 6.9, Section 1d). Denitrification converts Nr back to atmospheric N2. The current estimate for the production of atmospheric N2 is 110 TgN yr−1 (Bouwman et al., 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate Change 2013 The Physical Science Basis
EditorsT. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Platner
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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