Testing DayCent and DNDC model simulations of N2O fluxes and assessing the impacts of climate change on the gas flux and biomass production from a humid pasture

M. Abdalla, M. Jones, J. Yeluripati, P. Smith, J. Burke, M. Williams

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100 Citations (Scopus)


Simulation models are one of the approaches used to investigate greenhouse gas emissions and potential effects of global warming on terrestrial ecosystems. DayCent which is the daily time-step version of the CENTURY biogeochemical model, and DNDC (the DeNitrification-DeComposition model) were tested against observed nitrous oxide flux data from a field experiment on cut and extensively grazed pasture located at the Teagasc Oak Park Research Centre, Co. Carlow, Ireland. The soil was classified as a free draining sandy clay loam soil with a pH of 7.3 and a mean organic carbon and nitrogen content at 0-20 cm of 38 and 4.4 g kg(-1) dry soil, respectively. The aims of this study were to validate DayCent and DNDC models for estimating N2O emissions from fertilized humid pasture, and to investigate the impacts of future climate change on N2O fluxes and biomass production. Measurements of N2O flux were carried out from November 2003 to November 2004 using static chambers. Three climate scenarios, a baseline of measured climatic data from the weather station at Carlow, and high and low temperature sensitivity scenarios predicted by the Community Climate Change Consortium For Ireland (C4I) based on the Hadley Centre Global Climate Model (HadCM(3)) and the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B emission scenario were investigated. DayCent predicted cumulative N2O flux and biomass production under fertilized grass with relative deviations of +38% and (-23%) from the measured, respectively. However, DayCent performs poorly under the control plots, with flux relative deviation of (-57%) from the measured. Comparison between simulated and measured flux suggests that both DayCent model's response to N fertilizer and simulated background flux need to be adjusted. DNDC overestimated the measured flux with relative deviations of +132 and +258% due to overestimation of the effects of SOC. DayCent, though requiring some calibration for Irish conditions, simulated N2O fluxes more consistently than did DNDC. We used DayCent to estimate future fluxes of N2O from this field. No significant differences were found between cumulative N2O flux under climate change and baseline conditions. However, above-ground grass biomass was significantly increased from the baseline of 33 t ha(-1) to 45 (+34%) and 50 (+48%) t dry matter ha(-1) for the low and high temperature sensitivity scenario respectively. The increase in above-ground grass biomass was mainly due to the overall effects of high precipitation, temperature and CO2 concentration. Our results indicate that because of high N demand by the vigorously growing grass, cumulative N2O flux is not projected to increase significantly under climate change, unless more N is applied. This was observed for both the high and low temperature sensitivity scenarios. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2961-2970
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number25
Early online date15 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • DayCent
  • DNDC
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Pasture
  • nitrous-oxide emissions
  • soil organic-matter
  • carbon-dioxide
  • United-States
  • tillage systems
  • ecosystem model
  • elevated CO2
  • land-use
  • temperature
  • wheat


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