This suggests that the IPCC method, which assumes a constant emission factor, may underestimate emissions when the rate of nitrogen input and the nitrogen surplus are high.

"This new publication demonstrates both how we can solve a problem of growing greenhouse gas emissions and how current efforts are falling short in some regions of the world,” said co-author Davidson. “The emissions come primarily from using fertilisers to grow food and increasing livestock herds, but we've learned how to produce more food with less nitrous oxide emission.”

“In Europe and North America, we have succeeded in decreasing growth in nitrous oxide emissions, an important contributor to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion,” he added. “Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Asia and South America, where fertiliser use, intensification of livestock production, and the resulting nitrous oxide emissions are growing rapidly.

“The good news is that this problem can be solved, but the less good news is that it will take a global effort, and we are far from there yet,” he said.

(University of Maryland/wi)

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