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Multiscale estimates of N<inf>2</inf>O emissions from agricultural lands

Desjardins, R.L., Pattey, E., Smith, W.N., Worth, D., Grant, B., Srinivasan, R., MacPherson, J.I., Mauder, M. (2010). Multiscale estimates of N<inf>2</inf>O emissions from agricultural lands, 150(6), 817-824.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are a large proportion of the agriculture sector's contribution to the greenhouse gas inventory of most developed countries. The spatial and temporal variability of N2O emissions from agricultural soils has long been considered the main factor limiting our ability to estimate N2O emissions, particularly the emissions associated with the spring snowmelt period. Tower and aircraft-based flux measurement systems and a process-based model were used to quantify N2O emissions for four years (2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004) in an agricultural area of eastern Canada, near Ottawa, where a corn-soybean crop rotation dominates. A tower-based system, which relies on the flux gradient technique, provided diurnal N2O emissions at a field scale. An aircraft-based system, which relies on the relaxed eddy accumulation technique, provided N2O emissions for two similar agricultural regions and the DeNitrification and DeComposition (DNDC) model was used to estimate daily N2O emissions at a regional scale. In most cases, aircraft-based N2O emissions measurements were comparable for the two agricultural regions. Corresponding tower-based measurements which were collected over a field in the Ottawa area showed similar emission patterns to the aircraft-based measurements but in some cases the tower-based emissions were larger, as expected. This is because the footprint of aircraft-based measurements always incorporated a significant amount of crops such as soybean and other types of vegetation which do not receive additional nitrogen fertilization as well as waterlogged areas that do not emit N2O. While in three of the four years, the tower-based measurements were made over a tile drained field where nitrogen fertilizer had been applied the previous year. The N2O emissions patterns after planting were also similar for both aircraft and tower-based systems, but again they were slightly larger for the tower-based system. Aircraft-based N2O flux measurements are also compared to the N2O emissions obtained using the most recent version of the process-based model DNDC. Tests showed that DNDC gave comparable N2O emissions estimates for the measurement period as a whole, but was not always able to correctly predict the timing of peak emissions. © 2009.

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