Optimizing Nitrogen Management in Food and Energy Production and Environmental Protection: 2nd International Nitrogen Conference 2001View this Special Issue
Research Article | Open Access
An Approach to Balancing the Positive and Negative Effects of Elevated Nitrogen Oxides in the Lower Atmosphere on Terrestrial Plants
Elevated NOx in the lower atmosphere has three major effects on terrestrial plants. On the one hand, it causes an increase in surface ozone concentration. This reduces plant growth rate. On the other hand, elevated NOx causes an increase in the flux of oxidized N compounds from the atmosphere to the land surface. This plays a dual role in the life of terrestrial plants. Additional N in soils stimulates plant growth (N-fertilization effect), whereas soil acidification may negatively affect plants. A simple empirical model for calculating the overall effect of anthropogenic increase in NOx level has been developed. The model is based on experimental “cause-response” data presented in world scientific literature. Calculations showed that at the large scale, among the above-mentioned changes, elevated O3 plays a major and negative role in plant life. Its negative effect on plants is partly compensated by N fertilization in unmanaged ecosystems. Such compensation appears to be negligible in agricultural lands. There are vast territories in Euro-Asia — for instance, a territory of Russia — in which acid atmospheric deposition has no significant effect on terrestrial plants.