METHANE and nitrous oxide are long-lived, radiatively active trace gases that account for ∼20% of the total anticipated atmospheric warming1. The atmospheric concentrations of both gases have increased dramatically over the past few decades, and continue to increase at a rate of ∼1.1 and 0.25% yr−1 for CH4 (ref. 2) and N2O (ref. 3) respectively. Increased biospheric production is gen-erally suggested as the reason for the increases, but decreases in global sinks may also be important. It has been suggested, for example, that nitrogen fertilization may decrease the rate at which tropical4,5 and temperate forest soils6 take up methane from the atmosphere. Furthermore, the recent extensive changes in land management and cultivation could be contributing to the observed increases in both atmospheric CH4 and N2O, as has been suggested for tropical soils7. Little information exists on CH4 uptake in temperate grasslands (which currently occupy ∼8% of the Earth's surface), its relation to N2O production, or the effect of land management or cultivation8,9. Here we report measurements of CH4 uptake and N2O emissions in native, nitrogen-fertilized and wheat-growing prairie soils from spring to late autumn, 1990. We found that nitrogen fertilization and cultivation can both decrease CH4 uptake and increase N2O production, thereby contributing to the increasing atmospheric concentrations of these gases.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Rodhe, H. Science 248, 1217–1219 (1990).
Cicerone, R. J. & Oremland, R. S. Global biogeochem. Cycles 2, 299–327 (1988).
Prinn, R. et al. J. geophys. Res. 95, 18369–18385 (1990).
Bouwman, A. F. Soils and the Greenhouse Effect. (Wiley, Chichester, 1990).
Andreae, M. O. & Schimel, D. S. Exchange of Trace Gases between Terrestrial Ecosystems and the Atmosphere. (Wiley, Chichester, 1989).
Steudler, P. A., Bowden, R. D., Melillo, J. M. & Aber, J. D. Nature 341, 314–316 (1989).
Keller, M., Mitre, M. M. & Stallard, R. F. Global biogeochem. Cycles 4, 21–27 (1990).
Schutz, H., Seiler, W. & Rennenberg, H. in Soils and the Greenhouse Effect (ed. Bouwman, A. F.) 269–301 (Wiley, Chichester, 1990).
Seiler, W. & Conrad, R. in The Geophysiology of Amazonia: Vegetation and Climate Interactions (ed. Dickinson, R. E.) 133–162 (Wiley, New York, 1987).
Schimel, D., Stillwell, M. A. & Woodmansee, R. G. Ecology 66, 276–282 (1985).
Parton, W. J., Mosier, A. R. & Schimel, D. S. Biogeochemistry 6, 45–58 (1988).
Hutchinson, G. L. & Mosier, A. R. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 45, 311–316 (1981).
Mosier, A. R. & Mack, L. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 44, 1121–1123 (1980).
Slemr, F., Conrad, R. & Seiler, W. J. atmos. Chem. 1, 159–169 (1984).
Schimel, D. S. & Parton, W. J. Plant and Soil 93, 347–357 (1986).
Melillo, J. M., Steudler, P. A., Aber, J. D. & Bowden, R. D. in Exchange of Trace Gases Between Terrestrial Ecosystems and the Atmosphere (eds Andreae, M. O. & Schimel, D. S.) 263–280 (Wiley, Chichester, 1989).
Keller, M., Goreau, J. T., Wofsy, S. C., Kaplan, W. A. & McElroy, M. B. Geophys. Res. Lett. 10, 1156–1159 (1983).
Seiler, W., Conrad, R. & Scharffe, D. J. atmos. Chem. 1, 171–186 (1984).
Whalen, S. C. & Reeburgh, W. S. Nature 346, 160–162 (1990).
Aselman, I. & Crutzen, P. J. J. atmos. Chem. 8, 307–358 (1989).
About this article
Cite this article
Mosier, A., Schimel, D., Valentine, D. et al. Methane and nitrous oxide fluxes in native, fertilized and cultivated grasslands. Nature 350, 330–332 (1991) doi:10.1038/350330a0
The response of methanotrophs to additions of either ammonium, nitrate or urea in alpine swamp meadow soil as revealed by stable isotope probing
FEMS Microbiology Ecology (2019)
Tillage frequency affects microbial metabolic activity and short-term changes in CO2 fluxes within 1 week in karst ecosystems
Journal of Soils and Sediments (2019)
Soil aggregates as biogeochemical reactors and implications for soil-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases-A concept
Global Change Biology (2019)
Reduced soil disturbance: Positive effects on greenhouse gas efflux and soil N losses in winter wheat systems of the southern plains
Soil and Tillage Research (2019)
Nitrous oxide emissions from soils under traditional cropland and apple orchard in the semi-arid Loess Plateau of China
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment (2019)