Towards constraining the circumarctic N2O budget (NOCA)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Christina Biasi

Funding period: 2018 – 2020

Funding Agency: Academy of Finland

Arctic soils are well known for their huge carbon stocks and the significant positive feedback they can have on climate change, while the vast amounts of nitrogen in arctic soils are much less considered in this context. With warming and permafrost thaw, part of this nitrogen is at risk of being released to the atmosphere as the strong greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O).

Traditionally, it has been thought that N2O emissions from the Arctic are negligible, but increasing evidence points towards substantial N2O sources in the Arctic, both at present and in a future climate. However, existing data on these sources and their spatial distribution remain extremely sparse. Any debate on the Arctic N2O source at policy relevant scales remains elusive without increased observational coverage.

Here we will organize, for the first time, a large-scale survey of N2O fluxes across the Circumarctic. Our ultimate goal is to produce the first circumarctic N2O budget - an important baseline scenario to be put in relation to the already known carbon emissions (CO2 and CH4). To achieve this goal, we will measure N2O fluxes across a wide variety of Arctic sites using a network of collaborator stations, and combine this N2O screening with GIS approaches to scale up the N2O fluxes step-wise from plot to regional and circumarctic levels. For realistic upscaling of the N2O emissions, often occurring from small areas of high emissions, the use of high-resolution data is critical and will be obtained by our Russian partners using unmanned aerial imaging techniques with drones.

The N2O data obtained within NOCA can be sued for developing models on Arctic N2O dynamics, and will be made available for ecosystem and process modellers through direct co-operation and openly available databases.

Last updated: 3rd July 2018