Rising nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are jeopardizing the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, according to a major new study by an international team of scientists.
The growing use of nitrogen fertilizers in the production of food worldwide is increasing atmospheric concentrations of N2O - a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) that remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years.
Published today in the journal Nature, the study was led Auburn University, in the US, and involved scientists from 48 research institutions in 14 countries - including the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK - under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project and the International Nitrogen Initiative.
The aim was to produce the most comprehensive assessment to date of all global sources and sinks of N2O. Their findings show N2O emissions are increasing faster than any emission scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), consistent with greenhouse gas scenarios that lead to global mean temperature increases well above 3°C from pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to less than 2°C but ideally no more than 1.5°C.
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