Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists at climate talks say major changes to the nitrogen cycle cannot be ignored

Date:
December 8, 2009
Source:
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP)
Summary:
An international group of scientists say there is an immediate need for a global assessment of the nitrogen cycle and its impact on climate.

Global nitrogen cycle and planetary boundaries. Taken from the cover of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s Global Change magazine.
Credit: Copyright Randy Lyhus (2009) for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme

An international group of scientists say there is an immediate need for a global assessment of the nitrogen cycle and its impact on climate.

On a planetary scale, human activities, especially fertiliser application, have more than doubled the amount of reactive nitrogen in circulation on land. This massive alteration of the nitrogen cycle affects climate, food security, energy security, human health and ecosystem health. The long-term consequences of these changes are yet to be fully realised, but the human impact on the nitrogen cycle has so far been largely missed in international environmental assessments.

Nitrogen's role in climate change will be highlighted at an event on 7 December at the COP-15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Event organisers will be calling for a new assessment of nitrogen and climate, which will identify innovative nitrogen management strategies for global climate change mitigation and associated co-benefits to society.

Dr Cheryl Palm, the chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), which is organising the event, said "Nitrogen and climate interactions are not yet adequately included in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment process. There is an urgent need to assess the possibilities of nitrogen management for climate abatement and at the same time increase food security, while minimising environmental and human health impacts."

Dr Palm added, "We believe that in tackling nitrogen new opportunities for climate abatement will be created."

Professor Jan Willem Erisman from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, who will speak at the event said: "An internationally-coordinated global nitrogen assessment is urgently required. A special report on nitrogen and climate is the natural first step."

Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Senior Advisor on Environmental Law and Conventions at UNEP who will give the opening address at the side event said, "The nitrogen cycle is changing faster than that of any other element. In addition, the effects of reactive nitrogen are not limited to a single medium. A single molecule of reactive nitrogen may transition through many forms -- ammonia, nitrogen oxide, nitric acid, nitrate and organic nitrogen -- and may successively lead to a number of environmental, health and social impacts, including contributing to higher levels of ozone in the lower atmosphere. Over the last decade a number of global, regional and national initiatives have identified and addressed the issue of nutrient enrichment to the coastal zone. However, programmes are dispersed and fragmented and there is no single place to go for an overview of available information tools and mechanisms."

Professor Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme said, "We have changed the complexity of the nitrogen cycle profoundly and are unaware of all the implications. In the meantime, policies that affect the nitrogen cycle are often made in isolation of the range of their impacts. This is in part because policies are made in departments/ministries with responsibility for only certain sectors (e.g., air, agriculture, etc.). Furthermore, the scientific community does not yet have an integrated understanding of the multiple impacts and feedbacks of changes in the nitorgen cycle, or the interconnections with other cycles, like carbon. An integrated global nitrogen assessment is needed as soon as possible. This will support the development of tools for policy makers to understand the multiple implications of their decision."

The INI team believes that it is essential to untangle the complexity of the nitrogen and carbon cycle, identify the advantages of nitrogen management for climate abatement and investigates the costs and barriers to be overcome. Such an assessment needs to distinguish between developed areas where there is already an excess of nitrogen and the developing parts of the world where nitrogen management can help increase food security. Improved Nitrogen management will help limit fertilizer use, increase its efficiency and increase carbon sequestration in soils, decrease N2O emissions, while limiting other environmental and human health impacts.

The side event "Options for Including Nitrogen Management in Climate Policy Development" will be held in the US centre (Hall C5) from 6pm local time. The event will be followed by a networking reception supported by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), United Kingdom The organisers of the side event are the INI, CEH, the Ministry of Housing and Spatial Planning and Environment (VROM) of The Netherlands, the United Nations Environment Programme -- Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (UNEP/GPNM), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, SCOPE, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, COST and the European Science Foundation Nitrogen in Europe Research Networking Programme (NinE-ESF).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). "Scientists at climate talks say major changes to the nitrogen cycle cannot be ignored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091206183705.htm>.
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). (2009, December 8). Scientists at climate talks say major changes to the nitrogen cycle cannot be ignored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091206183705.htm
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). "Scientists at climate talks say major changes to the nitrogen cycle cannot be ignored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091206183705.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — California is the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery, liquor and convenience stores. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins