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Global nitrogen deposition and carbon sinks

Nature Geoscience volume 1, pages 430437 (2008) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Land and ocean uptake of carbon dioxide plays a critical role in determining atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Future increases in nitrogen deposition have been predicted to increase the size of these terrestrial and marine carbon sinks, but although higher rates of nitrogen deposition might enhance carbon uptake in northern and tropical forests, they will probably have less of an impact on ocean sink strength. Combined, the land and ocean sinks may sequester an additional 10% of anthropogenic cabon emissions by 2030 owing to increased nitrogen inputs, but a more conservative estimate of 1 to 2% is more likely. Thus nitrogen-induced increases in the strength of land and ocean sinks are unlikely to keep pace with future increases in carbon dioxide.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Alessandro Cescatti for comments and advice on Nr deposition and interactions. This work was supported by a Natural Environment Research Council UK fellowship award (to D.S.R).

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Affiliations

  1. School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JN, UK

    • Dave S. Reay
    •  & John Grace
  2. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Climate Change Unit, via Enrico Fermi 1, I-21020 Ispra, TP 290, Italy

    • Frank Dentener
  3. Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK

    • Pete Smith
  4. Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, 7600 Sand Point Way NE Seattle, Washington 98115, USA

    • Richard A. Feely

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Contributions

D.S.R. drafted the manuscript and developed the estimates of the potential global carbon sink response to future Nr inputs. P.S., J.G., F.D and R.A.F. each drafted sections of the manuscript. All authors contributed to further development and discussion of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dave S. Reay.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo230

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