Researchers find declining nitrogen availability in a nitrogen rich world

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FTA: >Since the mid-20th century, research and discussion has focused on the negative effects of excess nitrogen on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. However, new evidence indicates that the world is now experiencing a dual trajectory in nitrogen availability with many areas experiencing a hockey-stick shaped decline in the availability of nitrogen. In a new review paper in the journal Science, researchers have described the causes for these declines and the consequences on how ecosystems function. >”There is both too much nitrogen and too little nitrogen on Earth at the same time,” said Rachel Mason, lead author on the paper and former postdoctoral scholar at the National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center.


Key quote regarding likely causes: > These declines are likely caused by multiple environmental changes, one being elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached its highest level in millions of years, and terrestrial plants are exposed to about 50% more of this essential resource than just 150 years ago. Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilizes plants, allowing faster growth, but diluting plant nitrogen in the process, leading to a cascade of effects that lower the availability of nitrogen. On top of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, warming and disturbances, including wildfire, can also reduce availability over time.


How can you have too much and too little of something?


Is’t that the point of the ammonia fertiliser and why it uses so much power? Because nitrogen bonding is so difficult?


> In many areas of the world that are not subject to excessive inputs of nitrogen from people, long-term records demonstrate that nitrogen availability is declining, with important consequences for plant and animal growth. So a Phd has been able to determine that areas with large amount of artifical fertilizer (bound nitrogen by the Haber process) have an excess of available nitrogen, while those not fertilized suffer from decreased nitrogen. Damn, I got to get in on this academics scam. This has only been known for 100 years or so, since fields started to become depleted, guano supplies were shut off, and artificial fertilizers were developed.