Effects of multiple global change treatments on soil N 2O fluxes

Jamie R. Brown, Joseph C. Blankinship, Audrey Niboyet, Kees Jan van Groenigen, Paul Dijkstra, Xavier Le Roux, Paul W. Leadley, Bruce A. Hungate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Global environmental changes are expected to alter ecosystem carbon and nitrogen cycling, but the interactive effects of multiple simultaneous environmental changes are poorly understood. Effects of these changes on the production of nitrous oxide (N 2O), an important greenhouse gas, could accelerate climate change. We assessed the responses of soil N 2O fluxes to elevated CO 2, heat, altered precipitation, and enhanced nitrogen deposition, as well as their interactions, in an annual grassland at the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment (CA, USA). Measurements were conducted after 6, 7 and 8 years of treatments. Elevated precipitation increased N 2O efflux, especially in combination with added nitrogen and heat. Path analysis supported the idea that increased denitrification due to increased soil water content and higher labile carbon availability best explained increased N 2O efflux, with a smaller, indirect contribution from nitrification. In our data and across the literature, single-factor responses tended to overestimate interactive responses, except when global change was combined with disturbance by fire, in which case interactive effects were large. Thus, for chronic global environmental changes, higher order interactions dampened responses of N 2O efflux to multiple global environmental changes, but interactions were strongly positive when global change was combined with disturbance. Testing whether these responses are general should be a high priority for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Denitrification
  • Elevated CO
  • FACE
  • Global environmental change
  • Grassland
  • Interactions
  • Meta-analysis
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen deposition
  • Precipitation
  • Soil
  • Warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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