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20.11.2019 |

Nitrous oxide emissions are increasing faster than predicted

Nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture are on the rise, scientists warn (Photo: CC0)

Emissions of nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, are increasing more rapidly than previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal “Nature Climate Change”. A team of scientists has found that global emissions of nitrous oxide (N₂O), commonly known as laughing gas, are higher and growing faster than estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Nitrous oxide is a powerful contributor to global warming. It is 265 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and depletes our ozone layer,” the authors warn. In the early 20th century the Haber-Bosch process for the synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen in the atmosphere was developed. “The increased nitrogen availability has made it possible to produce a lot more food,” explains lead author Rona L. Thompson from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU). “The downside is of course the environmental problems associated with it, such as rising N₂O levels in the atmosphere.” Since the mid-20th century, the production of nitrogen fertilizers, widespread cultivation of nitrogen-fixing crops (such as clover, soybeans, alfalfa, lupins, and peanuts), and the combustion of fossil and biofuels have greatly enhanced emissions of N₂O, the NILU states in a press release. [+] more ...

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