National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2008

Global nitrogen deposition and carbon sinks

Reay, D.S., F. Dentener, P. Smith, J. Grace, and R.A. Feely

Nature Geosci., 1(7), 430–437, doi: 10.1038/ngeo230 (2008)

Land and ocean uptake of carbon dioxide plays a critical role in determining atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Future increases in nitrogen deposition have been predicted to increase the size of these terrestrial and marine carbon sinks, but although higher rates of nitrogen deposition might enhance carbon uptake in northern and tropical forests, they will probably have less of an impact on ocean sink strength. Combined, the land and ocean sinks may sequester an additional 10% of anthropogenic carbon emissions by 2030 owing to increased nitrogen inputs, but a more conservative estimate of 1 to 2% is more likely. Thus nitrogen-induced increases in the strength of land and ocean sinks are unlikely to keep pace with future increases in carbon dioxide.

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