Atmospheric Nitrous Oxide Variations on Centennial Time Scales During the Past Two Millennia

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  • Y. Ryu
  • J. Ahn
  • J. -W. Yang
  • E. J. Brook
  • A. Timmermann
  • Blunier, Thomas
  • S. Hur
  • S. -J. Kim

The continuous growth of atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) is of concern for its potential role in global warming and future stratospheric ozone destruction. Climate feedbacks that enhance N2O emissions in response to global warming are not well understood, and past records of N2O from ice cores are not sufficiently well resolved to examine the underlying climate-N2O feedbacks on societally relevant time scales. Here, we present a new high-resolution and high-precision N2O reconstruction obtained from the Greenland NEEM (North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling) and the Antarctic Styx Glacier ice cores. Covering the N2O history of the past two millennia, our reconstruction shows a centennial-scale variability of similar to 10 ppb. A pronounced minimum at similar to 600 CE coincides with the reorganizations of tropical hydroclimate and ocean productivity changes. Comparisons with proxy records suggest association of centennial- to millennial-scale variations in N2O with changes in tropical and subtropical land hydrology and marine productivity.

Plain Language Summary Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas. The growing level of N2O in the atmosphere is of global concern, and records of past N2O variations can provide an important context for understanding the links between N2O and climate change. In this study, we report new, high-quality N2O records covering the last two millennia using ice cores obtained from Greenland and Antarctica. Our N2O records show rapid centennial-scale changes in atmospheric N2O and confirm a pronounced minimum near 600 CE. Comparison with climate records suggests that hydroclimate change on land and changes in marine productivity contribute to centennial- to millennial-scale N2O variations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GB006568
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume34
Issue number9
Number of pages10
ISSN0886-6236
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • nitrous oxide, paleoclimate, ice core, ASIAN SOUTHWEST MONSOON, GREENLAND ICE CORE, SUMMER MONSOON, N2O EMISSIONS, NORTHERN-HEMISPHERE, VICTORIA LAND, STYX GLACIER, HOLOCENE, CLIMATE, VARIABILITY

ID: 252155735