European-scale modelling of groundwater denitrification and associated N2O production

29-06-2012 | Publication

This paper presents a spatially explicit model for simulating the transport of nitrogen (N) and the denitrification and associated production of nitrous oxide (N2O) in groundwater, with a one-kilometre resolution on the European scale. The model shows that the projected amounts of N leaching, 16% of N inputs, and N2O emissions, 0.014% of N leaching, are much lower than the IPCC default leaching rate and combined emission factor for groundwater and riparian zones.

The lower leaching and emission levels are caused by the large parts of Europe that have no groundwater aquifers and thus have short travel times from soil to surface water. In these regions, no groundwater denitrification and N2O production is expected. However, results do show large heterogeneity of nitrate outflow from groundwater to surface water and production of N2O, resulting from the variability in agricultural and hydrological systems.