Nitrous oxide emissions from riparian forest buffers, warm-season and cool-season grass filters, and crop fields

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Kim, D.
Parkin, Timothy
Loynachan, Thomas
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Raich, James
Professor Emeritus
Schultz, Richard
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Isenhart, Thomas
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology seeks to teach the studies of ecology (organisms and their environment), evolutionary theory (the origin and interrelationships of organisms), and organismal biology (the structure, function, and biodiversity of organisms). In doing this, it offers several majors which are codirected with other departments, including biology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology was founded in 2003 as a merger of the Department of Botany, the Department of Microbiology, and the Department of Zoology and Genetics.

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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Denitrification within riparian buffers may trade reduced nonpoint source pollution of surface waters for increased greenhouse gas emissions resulting from denitrification-produced nitrous oxide (N2O). However, little is known about the N2O emission within conservation buffers established for water quality improvement or of the importance of short-term N2O peak emission following rewetting dry soils and thawing frozen soils. Such estimates are important in reducing uncertainties in current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodologies estimating soil N2O emission which are based on N inputs. This study contrasts N2O emission from riparian buffer systems of three perennial vegetation types and an adjacent crop field, and compares measured N2O emission with estimates based on the IPCC methodology. We measured soil properties, N inputs, weather conditions and N2O fluxes from soils in forested riparian buffers, warm-season and cool-season grass filters, and a crop field located in the Bear Creek watershed in central Iowa, USA. Cumulative N2O emissions from soils in all riparian buffers (5.8 kg N2O-N ha−1 in 2006–2007) were significantly less than those from crop field soils (24.0 kg N2O-N ha−1 in 2006–2007), with no difference among the buffer vegetation types. While N2O peak emissions (up to 70-fold increase) following the rewetting of dry soils and thawing of frozen soils comprised 46–70% of the annual N2O emissions from soils in the crop field, soils in the riparian buffers were less sensitive to such events (3 to 10-fold increase). The ratio of N2O emission to N inputs within riparian buffers (0.02) was smaller than those of crop field (0.07). These results indicate that N2O emission from soils within the riparian buffers established for water quality improvement should not be considered a major source of N2O emission compared to crop field emission. The observed large difference between measured N2O emissions and those estimated using the IPCC's recommended methodology (i.e., 87% underestimation) in the crop field suggests that the IPCC methodology may underestimate N2O emission in the regions where soil rewetting and thawing are common, and that conditions predicted by future climate-change scenarios may increase N2O emissions.


This article is publshed as Kim, D-G., T. M. Isenhart, T. B. Parkin, R. C. Schultz, T. E. Loynachan, and J. W. Raich. "Nitrous oxide emissions from riparian forest buffers, warm-season and cool-season grass filters, and crop fields." Biogeosciences Discussions 6, no. 1 (2009): 607-650. 10.5194/bgd-6-607-2009. Posted with permission.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009