An estimate of the global sink for nitrous oxide in soils


Correspondence: William H. Schlesinger, tel. +1-845-677-7600, fax +1-845-677-5976, e-mail:


A literature survey of studies reporting nitrous oxide uptake in the soils of natural ecosystems is used to suggest that the median uptake potential is 4 μg m−2 h−1. The highest values are nearly all associated with soils of wetland and peatland ecosystems. Globally, the consumption of nitrous oxide in soils is not likely to exceed 0.3 TgN yr−1, indicating that the projected sink is not more than 2% of current estimated sources of N2O in the atmosphere.