Response of nitrous oxide emissions to individual rain events and future changes in precipitation

Lee T. Miller, Timothy John Griffis, Matthew Dean Erickson, Peter August Turner, Malte Julian Deventer, Zichong Chen, Zhongjie Yu, Rodney T. Venterea, John M. Baker, Alexander L. Frie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Changing precipitation has the potential to alter nitrous oxide (N 2 O) emissions from agricultural regions. In this study, we applied the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 end-of-century RCP 8.5 (business as usual) precipitation projections for the U.S. Upper Midwest and examined the effects of mean precipitation changes, characterized by increased early-season rainfall and decreased mid- to late-season rainfall, on N 2 O emissions from a conventionally managed corn (Zea mays L.) cropping system grown in an indoor mesocosm facility over four growing seasons. We also assessed the response of N 2 O emissions to over 1,000 individual rain events. Nitrous oxide emissions were most strongly correlated with water-filled pore space (WFPS) and soil nitrogen (N) status. After rain events, the change in N 2 O emissions, relative to pre-rain emissions, was more likely to be positive when soil NO 3 - was >40 mg N kg -1 soil and soil NH 4 + was >10 mg N kg -1 soil and was more likely to be negative when soil NO 3 - was >40 mg N kg -1 soil and soil NH 4 + was <10 mg N kg -1 soil. Similarly, hourly N 2 O emissions remained <5 nmol m - 2 s -1 when combined NH 4 + + NO 3 - was <20 mg N kg -1 soil or NH 4 + and NO 3 - were <5 and 20 mg N kg -1 soil, respectively. Rain event magnitude did not substantially affect the change in N 2 O flux. Finally, growing-season N 2 O emissions, soil moisture, and inorganic N content were not affected by the future precipitation pattern. Near-optimal soil WFPS combined with soil N concentrations above the identified thresholds favor higher N 2 O emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-324
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA Grant 2018‐67019‐27808) and the MN Corn Research and Promotion Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Environmental Quality published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.


  • Agriculture
  • Nitrogen/analysis
  • Nitrous Oxide/analysis
  • Rain
  • Soil
  • Water
  • Zea mays

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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