Global nitrogen deposition and carbon sinks

Dave S. Reay, Frank Dentener, Pete Smith, John Grace, Richard A. Feely

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

621 Citations (Scopus)


Land and ocean uptake of carbon dioxide plays a critical role in determining atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Future increases in nitrogen deposition have been predicted to increase the size of these terrestrial and marine carbon sinks, but although higher rates of nitrogen deposition might enhance carbon uptake in northern and tropical forests, they will probably have less of an impact on ocean sink strength. Combined, the land and ocean sinks may sequester an additional 10% of anthropogenic cabon emissions by 2030 owing to increased nitrogen inputs, but a more conservative estimate of 1 to 2% is more likely. Thus nitrogen-induced increases in the strength of land and ocean sinks are unlikely to keep pace with future increases in carbon dioxide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-437
Number of pages8
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number7
Early online date22 Jun 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • litter decomposition
  • forest ecosystems
  • temperate forest
  • climate-change
  • terrestrial ecosystems
  • atmospheric nitrogen
  • soil respiration
  • European forests
  • organic-matter
  • Harvard forest


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