Research Coordination Network on Reactive Nitrogen

Research Coordination Network on Reactive Nitrogen

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a 5-year project, beginning March 2011, to create a network of researchers who specialize in a wide range of disciplines pertaining to excess nitrogen in the environment, including aquatic and terrestrial ecology, agronomy, atmospheric chemistry, groundwater dynamics, engineering, epidemiology, and economics. We propose to partner with Resource Media, which has created Nitrogen News as part of a project supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Nitrogen News was created as a resource for journalists and bloggers covering nitrogen science and management policy.

RCN: Reactive Nitrogen in the Biosphere – Abstract

PI: Eric A. Davidson, The Woods Hole Research Center
coPI: Alan Townsend, University of Colorado

Steering committee members:
Jill Baron, USGS; Mark David, University of Illinois; Richard Haeuber, EPA; Robert Howarth, Cornell University; Richard Lowrance, USDA-ARS; Jennifer Peel, Colorado State University; Ellen Porter, US National Park Service; Richard Pouyat, USDA-FS; Clifford Snyder, International Plant Nutrition Inst., Penelope Whitney, Resource Media

Demand for nitrogen fertilizers is increasing in response to growing human population, improving diets, and expanding biofuel crop production. Unfortunately, only about half of the applied nitrogen is used by crops, and the rest is unintentionally released to groundwater, rivers, and to the air, where it presents problems for human health and ecosystem health. Burning fossil fuels for industry and transportation also releases nitrogen into the air, which falls on soils and water bodies. The objective of this research coordination network is to engage a community of researchers from many disciplines, including atmospheric chemistry, agronomy, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, social science, and human and wildlife health, who individually study aspects of this issue, but whose collective, inter-disciplinary synthesis is needed to define integrative potential solutions. A series of workshops will be convened on topics such as impacts of excess nitrogen on climate, air pollution, water pollution, and agricultural production. Framing the scientific issues of excess nitrogen in the environment in a context relevant to human and ecosystem health will increase understanding for both scientific and non-scientific audiences of the extent of the health and pollution problems associated with excess nitrogen, as well as options and trade-offs for finding solutions.