Generalized model for N2 and N2O production from nitrification and denitrification


  • W. J. Parton,

  • A. R. Mosier,

  • D. S. Ojima,

  • D. W. Valentine,

  • D. S. Schimel,

  • K. Weier,

  • A. E. Kulmala


We describe a model of N2 and N2O gas fluxes from nitrification and denitrification. The model was developed using laboratory denitrification gas flux data and field-observed N2O gas fluxes from different sites. Controls over nitrification N2O gas fluxes are soil texture, soil NH4, soil water-filled pore space, soil N turnover rate, soil pH, and soil temperature. Observed data suggest that nitrification N2O gas fluxes are proportional to soil N turnover and that soil NH4 levels only impact N2O gas fluxes with high levels of soil NH4 (>3 μg N g−1). Total denitrification (N2 plus N2O) gas fluxes are a function of soil heterotrophic respiration rates, soil NO3, soil water content, and soil texture. N2:N2O ratio is a function of soil water content, soil NO3, and soil heterotrophic respiration rates. The denitrification model was developed using laboratory data [Weier et al, 1993] where soil water content, soil NO3, and soil C availability were varied using a full factorial design. The Weier's model simulated observed N2 and N2O gas fluxes for different soils quite well with r2 equal to 0.62 and 0.75, respectively. Comparison of simulated model results with field N2O data for several validation sites shows that the model results compare well with the observed data (r2 = 0.62). Winter denitrification events were poorly simulated by the model. This problem could have been caused by spatial and temporal variations in the observed soil water data and N2O fluxes. The model results and observed data suggest that approximately 14% of the N2O fluxes for a shortgrass steppe are a result of denitrification and that this percentage ranged from 0% to 59% for different sites.