Climate change unequally affects nitrogen use and losses in global croplands

Ren, Chenchen; Zhang, Xiuming; Reis, Stefan ORCID:; Wang, Sitong; Jin, Jiaxin; Xu, Jianming; Gu, Baojing. 2023 Climate change unequally affects nitrogen use and losses in global croplands. Nature Food, 4 (4). 294-304.

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Maintaining food production while reducing agricultural nitrogen pollution is a grand challenge under global climate change. Yet, the response of global agricultural nitrogen uses and losses to climate change on the temporal and spatial scales has not been fully characterized. Here, using historical data for 1961–2018 from over 150 countries, we show that global warming leads to small temporal but substantial spatial impacts on cropland nitrogen use and losses. Yield and nitrogen use efficiency increase in 29% and 56% of countries, respectively, whereas they reduce in the remaining countries compared with the situation without global warming in 2018. Precipitation and farm size changes would further intensify the spatial variations of nitrogen use and losses globally, but managing farm size could increase the global cropland nitrogen use efficiency to over 70% by 2100. Our results reveal the importance of reducing global inequalities of agricultural nitrogen use and losses to sustain global agriculture production and reduce agricultural pollution.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 2662-1355
Additional Keywords: agriculture, element cycles
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 07 Nov 2023 09:54 +0 (UTC)

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