Quantifying nitrous oxide fluxes on multiple spatial scales in the Upper Midwest, USA

Xin Zhang, Xuhui Lee, Timothy J Griffis, Arlyn E. Andrews, John M. Baker, Matt D. Erickson, Ning Hu, Wei Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study seeks to quantify the roles of soybean and corn plants and the cropland ecosystem in the regional N2O budget of the Upper Midwest, USA. The N2O flux was measured at three scales (plant, the soil–plant ecosystem, and region) using newly designed steady-state flow-through plant chambers, a flux-gradient micrometeorological tower, and continuous tall-tower observatories. Results indicate that the following. (1) N2O fluxes from unfertilized soybean (0.03 ± 0.05 nmol m−2 s−1) and fertilized corn plants (−0.01 ± 0.04 nmol m−2 s−1) were about one magnitude lower than N2O emissions from the soil–plant ecosystem (0.26 nmol m−2 s−1 for soybean and 0.95 nmol m−2 s−1 for corn), confirming that cropland N2O emissions were mainly from the soil. (2) Fertilization increased the corn plant flux for a short period (about 20 days), and late-season fertilization dramatically increased the soybean plant emissions. (3) The direct N2O emission from cropland accounted for less than 20 % of the regional flux, suggesting a significant influence by other sources and indirect emissions, in the regional N2O budget.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the University of Minnesota UMore Park for use of the facilities. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Education of China (grant PCSIRT), the Rice Family Foundation, the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy Research Prize Fellowship, the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and USDA NIFA/2010-65112-20528. Measurements at the WBI tower were funded by NOAA’s Climate Program Office and are part of NOAA’s contributions to the North American Carbon Program. We thank Professor Charles Stanier from the University of Iowa and his students for supporting the NOAA PFP measurements at the WBI tower.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, ISB.


  • Agriculture
  • Corn
  • Land surface flux
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Soybean


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