Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists uncover isotopic fingerprint of N2O emissions from Arctic tundra

10.04.2017

A new study from the University of Eastern Finland presents, for the first time, the isotopic fingerprint of nitrous oxide produced by Arctic soils. The finding opens new avenues for predicting future trends in atmospheric nitrous oxide as well as in identifying climate change mitigation actions in the Arctic, a region that is particularly sensitive to climate change.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and also the second largest contributor to ozone depletion in the stratosphere. It is produced naturally by soils, with agricultural and tropical rain forest soils being the main sources of N2O to the atmosphere. Until recently, scientists assumed that nitrous oxide emissions were negligible in colder climate regions like the Arctic and sub-Arctic.


Bare peat surfaces in the discontinuous permafrost zone of the sub-Arctic East European tundra. New research explores the source of unexpectedly high nitrous oxide emissions from such bare peat soils in Arctic tundra.

Credit: University of Eastern Finland Biogeochemistry Research Group

This assumption, however, was contradicted by scientists from the University of Eastern Finland a decade ago, when they discovered that bare peat surfaces in permafrost peatlands are releasing high amounts of N2O, despite the general nitrogen limitation of tundra ecosystems. Since then, N2O emissions and their underlying processes have been the object of plenty of research and, also, debate.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, together with colleagues from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC) and the University of California, Berkeley, explore the isotopic composition and potential sources of nitrous oxide emitted by soils in the sub-Arctic tundra. The study explores new frontiers in polar science, and the approach used establishes a legacy of data and methodologies that have the potential to link the Arctic ecosystem with the global N2O cycle.

In the study, the researchers examined nitrogen and oxygen isotopes in N2O samples collected from permafrost peatland sites in northwestern Russia. Using "site preference" analysis, the scientists also identified the specific isotopes occupying the two different nitrogen sites within the nitrous oxide molecule. The study presents for the first time the isotopic fingerprint of N2O produced by soils of Arctic tundra, thereby contributing to an understanding of N2O production mechanisms in this understudied environment.

Since different microbial processes leave distinct isotopic fingerprints on nitrous oxide, the researchers also hoped to figure out the relative amounts of nitrous oxide emitted by different nitrogen-processing microbes in the tundra soils. The results suggest that the N2O emissions from bare tundra peat soils might be due to nitrifier denitrification, a microbial process that transforms ammonia (NH4) into N2 in a series of steps, one of which produces nitrous oxide. However, in the study year N2O emissions were low compared to previous years, and the reasons for the high emissions are still unclear. The isotope data was not conclusive enough, and even the sophisticated site preference technique did not provide enough information to tease out the relative roles of different microbes.

Nonetheless, the findings are valuable because isotopic nitrous oxide data from the Arctic and sub-Arctic are extremely rare. The findings could aid predictions of future trends in atmospheric nitrous oxide and help to identify mitigation actions in the Arctic, a region that is particularly sensitive to climate change. In the future, enhanced N2O emissions from natural soil such as sub-Arctic tundra might mask the isotope effect caused by mitigation actions derived from agriculture.

###

The findings were reported in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, and the article is featured as a Research Spotlight in the Eos magazine at https://eos.org/research-spotlights/high-arctic-emissions-of-a-strong-greenhouse-gas

For further information, please contact:

Researcher Jenie Gil, University of Eastern Finland, email: jenie.gillugo (a) uef.fi, tel. +358 40 3552111

Research article:

Gil, J., T. Pérez, K. Boering, P. J. Martikainen, and C. Biasi (2017), Mechanisms responsible for high N2O emissions from subarctic permafrost peatlands studied via stable isotope techniques, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 31, 172-189, doi:10.1002/2015GB005370.

Media Contact

Jenie Gil
jenie.gillugo@uef.fi
358-403-552-111

 @UniEastFinland

http://www.uef.fi 

Jenie Gil | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
16.02.2018 | Princeton University

nachricht NASA finds strongest storms in weakening Tropical Cyclone Sanba
15.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>