Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Atmospheric redistribution of reactive nitrogen and phosphorus by wildfires and implications for global carbon cycling (Invited)

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 16:30
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Fires are an important process regulating the redistribution of nutrients within terrestrial ecosystems. Frequently burning ecosystems such as savannas are a net source of N and P to the atmosphere each year, with atmospheric transport and dry and wet deposition increasing nutrient availability in downwind ecosystems and over the open ocean. Transport of N and P aerosols from savanna fires within the Hadley circulation contributes to nutrient deposition over tropical forests, yielding an important cross-biome nutrient transfer. Pyrodenitrification of reactive N increases with fire temperature and modified combustion efficiency, generating a global net biospheric loss of approximately 14 Tg N per year. Here we analyze atmospheric N and P redistribution using the Global Fire Emissions Database version 4s and the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy earth system model. We synthesize literature estimates of N and P concentrations in fire-emitted aerosols and ecosystem mass balance measurements to help constrain model estimates of these biosphere-atmosphere fluxes. In our analysis, we estimate the fraction of terrestrial net primary production (NPP) that is sustained by fire-emitted P and reactive N from upwind ecosystems. We then evaluate how recent global declines in burned area in savanna and grassland ecosystems may be changing nutrient availability in downwind ecosystems.

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