General model for N2O and N2 gas emissions from soils due to dentrification


  • S. J. Del Grosso,

  • W. J. Parton,

  • A. R. Mosier,

  • D. S. Ojima,

  • A. E. Kulmala,

  • S. Phongpan


Observations of N gas loss from incubations of intact and disturbed soil cores were used to model N2O and N2 emissions from soil as a result of denitrification. The model assumes that denitrification rates are controlled by the availability in soil of NO3 (e acceptor), labile C compounds (e donor), and O2 (competing e acceptor). Heterotrophic soil respiration is used as a proxy for labile C availability while O2 availability is a function of soil physical properties that influence gas diffusivity, soil WFPS, and O2 demand. The potential for O2 demand, as indicated by respiration rates, to contribute to soil anoxia varies inversely with a soil gas diffusivity coefficient which is regulated by soil porosity and pore size distribution. Model inputs include soil heterotrophic respiration rate, texture, NO3 concentration, and WFPS. The model selects the minimum of the NO3 and CO2 functions to establish a maximum potential denitrification rate for particular levels of e acceptor and C substrate and accounts for limitation of O2 availability to estimate daily N2+N2O flux rates. The ratio of soil NO3 concentration to CO2 emission was found to reliably (r2=0.5) model the ratio of N2 to N2O gases emitted from the intact cores after accounting for differences in gas diffusivity among the soils. The output of the ratio function is combined with the estimate of total N gas flux rate to infer N2O emission. The model performed well when comparing observed and simulated values of N2O flux rates with the data used for model building (r2=0.50) and when comparing observed and simulated N2O+N2 gas emission rates from irrigated field soils used for model testing (r2=0.47).