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The UK’s total nitrogen budget from 1990 to 2020: a transition from source to sink?

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2016, 09:30 by F. Worrall, T. P. Burt, N. J. K. Howden, Michael John Whelan
This study estimates the annual total nitrogen balance of the UK from 1990 to 2020. The following inputs of nitrogen are considered: inorganic fertilizer, atmospheric deposition; food and feed imports; and biological nitrogen fixation. The outputs considered compose: atmospheric emissions; direct losses of sewage and industrial effluent to the sea; fluvial losses at source; food and feed exports; and terrestrial denitrification. It is shown that: (1) Inputs of inorganic fertilizer declined significantly over the study period with both atmospheric deposition and food and feed imports significantly increasing. (2) Outputs of total N also significantly declined with all output pathways decreasing except for atmospheric emissions and terrestrial denitrification to N2. (3) The UK was a net source of total nitrogen in 1990 of approximately −1941 ± 224 kilotonnes N/year (−8 tonnes N/km2/year; inter-quartile range of ±0.9 tonnes/km2/year). However, by 2012, this net nitrogen source had decreased to about −1446 ± 195 kilotonnes N/year (−5.9 tonnes N/km2/year). The future total N balance of the UK is being driven by declines in outputs rather than changes in inputs. The largest declines are in the atmospheric emissions of reactive nitrogen (Nr) and the fluvial flux of N such that by 2020 to the total N budget is predicted to be −1042 (±246) kilotonnes N/year (−4.2 tonnes N/km2/year) and by 2031 the UK would be a net sink of total N.

History

Citation

Biogeochemistry, 2016, 129 (3), pp. 325-340

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Geography/Physical Geography

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Biogeochemistry

Publisher

Springer Verlag

issn

0168-2563

eissn

1573-515X

Acceptance date

26/07/2016

Copyright date

2016

Available date

11/11/2016

Publisher version

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10533-016-0234-4

Language

en

Licence

Exports