Nitrogen deposition in tropical forests from deforestation and savanna fires

Running title: Fire effects on tropical N fluxes

Yang Chen, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA James T. Randerson, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA Guido R. van der Werf, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, 1081HV Amsterdam, Netherlands Douglas C. Morton, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Biospheric Sciences Branch, Code 614.4, Greenbelt, Maryland USA 20771 Prasad S. Kasibhatla, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA

Kewords: atmospheric transport, pyro-denitrification, nitrogen limitation, Hadley circulation, tropical biomes, the global carbon cycle, and biomass burning Category of article: Primary Research Article

Corresponding author Yang Chen Email: Phone: 1-949-824-0597 Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697

Manuscript prepared for Global Change Biology June 11, 2009


Tropical forests account for nearly half of global net primary production (NPP) and may contribute substantially to contemporary and future land carbon (C) sinks. We used satellite-derived estimates of global fire emissions and a chemical transport model to estimate atmospheric nitrogen (N) fluxes from deforestation and savanna fires in tropical ecosystems. N emissions and deposition led to a substantial net transport of N equatorward, from savannas and areas undergoing deforestation to tropical forests. On average, N emissions from fires were equivalent to approximately 28% of biological N fixation (BNF) in savannas (4.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1) and 38% of BNF from ecosystems at the deforestation frontier (9.1 kg N ha-1 yr-1). N deposition occurred in interior tropical forests at a rate equivalent to 4% of their BNF (1.1 kg N ha-1 yr-1). This percentage was highest for African tropical forests in the Congo Basin (16%; 3.7 kg N ha-1 yr-1) owing to equatorward transport from northern and southern savannas. These results suggest that land use change, including deforestation fires, may be enhancing nutrient availability and carbon sequestration in nearby tropical forest ecosystems.


Nitrogen (N) is an essential element in Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere (Galloway et al., 2003). The majority of N in the atmosphere is N2, which is biologically unavailable to most organisms. N2 must be converted to reactive N (Nr), which includes inorganic oxidized forms (e.g., NO, NO2, and HNO3), inorganic reduced forms (NH3 and NH4+), and organic forms (e.g., amino acids and urea), prior to its use by microbes and plants. N2 to Nr conversion (N fixation) occurs during electrical discharges in lightning and by some bacteria and algae via a process known as biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) (Cleveland et al., 1999). Humans have more than doubled the flux of N2 to Nr through fossil fuel use, industrial N fertilizer production, and cultivation of N fixing leguminous crops (Vitousek et al., 1997; Smil, 1999; Galloway et al., 2004, 2008). Atmospheric transport and deposition of N emissions substantially changes N availability in terrestrial ecosystems. Major effects of N deposition have been documented in terrestrial and marine ecosystems (e.g., Fenn et al., 2003). Since most terrestrial ecosystems are N-limited, N addition to these ecosystems stimulates net primary production (NPP) (LeBauer & Treseder, 2008) and may enhance carbon (C) storage by this mechanism (e.g., Holland et al., 1997, Reay et al., 2008). However, chronic N enrichment may lead to loss of C by increasing decomposition in organic soils (Mack et al., 2004) or in soil carbon components that have decadal turnover times (Neff et al., 2002). In some ecosystems, N addition also reduces microbial biomass and decreases soil respiration (Treseder, 2008). N deposition can also influence ecosystem function by means of acidification, eutrophication (Rabalais, 2002), and loss of species diversity (Wilson and Tilman, 2002; Suding et al., 2005; Phoenix et al.,


2006). Much of our knowledge of the N cycle and the consequences of N enrichment are from temperate ecosystems, where industrial and agricultural modifications of N availability are substantial. Tropical ecosystems respond in different ways to perturbations in N cycling (Matson et al., 1999; Davidson et al., 2004) and important uncertainties remain with respect to our understanding of N deposition, fixation, and loss pathways in these ecosystems. With implementation of stricter air quality standards, N emission and deposition are likely to slow down in temperate regions, particularly in developed countries (Lamarque et al., 2005; Dentener et al., 2006). In contrast, N emission and deposition in tropical and subtropical regions should increase (Galloway et al., 1994). Since tropical ecosystems account nearly half of global NPP (Field et al., 1998) and may contribute substantially to contemporary and future land C sinks (Friedlingstein et al., 2006; Stephens et al., 2007), it is imperative to identify and quantify the consequences of changing levels of N deposition and N cycling in tropical ecosystems. Fires in savanna and at the deforestation frontier are a major source of air pollution in the tropics (Crutzen and Andreae, 1990). Nitrogen oxide (NO) and ammonia (NH3) are the primary Nr gases emitted from these fires. They are converted to other Nr gases and to particulate species (NO3-, NH4+, and organic aerosols) by means of multiple reaction pathways (Crutzen and Andreae, 1990; Atkinson, 2000). The ultimate fate of Nr in the atmosphere is removal by wet and dry deposition. Gas and aerosol components of dry deposition are important in many regions (Dentener et al., 2006). Regional variations in emissions and atmospheric transport of Nr have the potential to create strong gradients of


2006). as some is retained within the ecosystem in combusted residues (approximately 20%) and the remainder (another 30–40%) is transformed directly into N2 during the combustion processes (Lobert et al.. 1999. We validated some of our modeled fluxes by comparing our results with published observations of N deposition. van der Werf et al. The transport and deposition of N were simulated by using the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model (CTM) (Bey et al. We performed 10 years (1997–2006) of global-scale simulations but focus our analysis and discussion on tropical ecosystems. The N2 emission represents a net loss of N from the biosphere– contrasting with Nr fluxes that instead lead to redistribution of Nr across different ecosystems. 5 . Emissions of NO and NH3 probably account for only 40-50% of the N present in fuels prior to combustion.N deposition across both terrestrial and ocean ecosystems. 2001. We estimated N2 emissions from biomass burning using data derived from a chamber burning experiment (Kuhlbusch et al. These fluxes were then compared with terrestrial and marine BNF fluxes (Cleveland et al. 2002).. Deutsch et al. We explored the loss of N by emissions from biomass burning and the gain of Nr by deposition from the atmosphere. 2006) and a biogeochemical model constrained by other satellite data to estimate fuel loads. 2001). we assessed the contribution of fires to N cycling in tropical ecosystems. We estimated fire emissions using the Global Fire Emission Database version 2 (GFEDv2. We also estimated the net N flux from fire emissions in different tropical ecosystems.. 1991). 1991). Kuhlbusch et al.. Lee et al.. In this study. which combines satellite observations of burned area (Giglio et al.. 1990....

CO anomalies from GFEDv2 in the GEOS-CHEM model had a mean correlation of 0. defined as the emission of species (g) per 1 kg burned DM. 2008)..79 with observations from NOAA Global Monitoring Division (GMD) stations in the Northern Hemisphere 6 . for example. 2006).. were obtained from Andreae and Merlet (2001). 2006). Burned area was derived using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) active fire and burned area datasets as described by Giglio et al.. Emission rates (E) for each gaseous N species were calculated by applying EMFs to fire-emitted carbon fluxes from CASA: E = EMF × BA × FL × CC (1) Organic dry matter (DM) in the fuel was assumed to be comprised of 45% carbon. (2006). fuel loads (FL). GFEDv2 CO emissions in equatorial Asia. Emission factors.METHODS Nr emissions from biomass burning The GFEDv2 product consists of 1°×1° gridded monthly burned area (BA). 2003. combustion completeness (CC). required a small negative adjustment (from 0-22% depending on atmospheric inversion approach) to match Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere (MOPITT) observations during 2000-2006 (van der Werf et al. Comparison with atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) observations provides some validation of carbon emissions. and emissions factors (EMFs) for different gas and aerosol species (van der Werf et al. Fuel loads were estimated using the Carnegie-Ames-Stanford-Approach (CASA) biogeochemical model constrained by additional satellite observations of fractional tree cover and the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation by plant canopies (van der Werf et al.

.09. Giglio et al. we used the sum of gaseous NOx and NH3 emissions to represent total Nr emissions from biomass burning. 2008). In our model simulations and calculations.59 with GMD stations in the Southern Hemisphere (Kai et al.. for northern and southern hemispheres.g. 1990).. (1991) showed that the missing N is mostly molecular N (N2)...and 0. HCN. Similarly. 2009). respectively. 2006) and total carbon emissions (e. the ratio of modeled to observed standard deviations of CO anomalies from GMD was 0. NOx and NH3 account for the majority (greater than 90%) of Nr emissions from biomass burning (Andreae and Merlet.g. By burning different biomass materials in a stainless steel chamber..g. Kuhlbusch et al.. CO/CO2 emission ratio 7 . van der Werf et al. N2O. This experiment also showed that N2 is formed primarily during the flaming stage and thus the total amount of N2 production (as a fraction of fuel N) depends on fire intensity. which accounts for approximately one third of fuel N. 2001). and acetonitrile) is small compared with uncertainties associated with our estimates of burned area (e. Nr can be emitted into the atmosphere in different chemical forms and physical phases. Nr to N2 conversion during biomass burning A large gap has been observed in the N balance between its content in the fuel and the sum of measured N in gaseous emissions and what remains after combustion in the ash (Lobert et al. The low bias we expect from neglecting the remaining Nr emissions (e. they are of sufficient quality to study the impact of fire-emitted species on atmospheric composition.86 and 1. These results indicate that while emissions estimates are still uncertain.

5° horizontal resolution and 30 vertical layers between the surface and 0. and deposition of biomass burning emitted N species. Model simulations of N transport and deposition We used the GEOS-Chem model to calculate the transport. aircraft. GEOS-Chem is a global 3-D CTM (Bey et al. For each grid cell. In this study. In this study. biofuel. Emission sources of N include NOx from lightning. and 8 . we used version 08-01-01 of the model with 2°×2. (1991) measurements showed that the N2-N to Nr-N ratio of fire emissions was inversely related to its CO/CO2 ratio (see Fig. and NH3 from biofuel. soil and fertilizer. A 2°(latitude) × 2. transformation..serves as a powerful indicator for the relative extent of flaming combustion and smoldering combustion. the GFEDv2 Nr emission rate was scaled by this ratio to approximate the fire emission rate of N2. tropical forest fires. fossil fuel. we estimated the CO/CO2 ratio for three different fire types: savanna and grassland fires. S1 in Supporting Information). 1998). biomass burning. and extratropical forest fires using the emission factors of CO and CO2 listed in Table 1 of Andreae and Merlet (2001).01 hPa.5°(longitude) vegetation map of these three types (Andreae and Merlet.. Analysis of the Kuhlbusch et al. The GEOS-Chem model includes a detailed description of tropospheric O3-NOx-hydrocarbon chemistry (Wang et al. 2001) driven by assimilated meteorological observations from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) of the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). biomass burning. 2001) was used to derive the global gridded N2-N to Nr-N ratio. The N2-N to Nr-N ratio derived from this relationship was used to estimate global N2 emissions from biomass burning. fossil fuel.

Total deposition rate of N from biomass burning was then calculated for each 2°×2. We recorded monthly mean deposition rates for each N species through dry and wet deposition. The difference between these two simulations represents the effect of biomass burning emissions on N transport and deposition. HNO3. and wild animals). two sets of simulations were conducted: one with biomass burning emissions prescribed from GFEDv2. central. and another without these emissions. N tracers are present in gas phase (e.g. We performed GEOS-Chem full chemistry simulations over a 10-year period (1997-2006) using the GFEDv2 inventory.g. These tracers are transported by meteorology-driven advection and convection processes. (1999) reviewed published studies and generated three linear regressions (conservative. N2O5. After a three-month spin-up period with the same initial conditions. Wet deposition included convective and large-scale components (Liu et al.. and upper-bound) between BNF and evapotranspiration (ET) in terrestrial ecosystems. and N on sea salt).natural sources (e. NOx. Galloway et al. (2004) argued that the true N fixation rate lies at the lower end of this 9 . and NH3) or aerosol phase (NH4+. N on sulfate... 2001). which resolves the interannual variability of biomass burning emissions.5° model grid cell. Biological N fixation Cleveland et al. and finally removed by the action of precipitation (wet deposition) or by contact with surface or vegetation (dry deposition). vegetation. N emissions from other sources were obtained from climatological inventories which represent contemporary (circa 2000) emissions. soils. peroxyacyl nitrate (PAN).

. In this study.. we assumed that the mean of these two rates represented the N fixation rate over other tropical oceans. Due to a dearth of data for other regions. Large uncertainty remains in the estimation of regional marine N fixation (Mahaffey et al.. (1999) to estimate N fixation rates over land. due to the inherent biases noted in plot-scale studies. 2005). 2001). 10 .range. In this study.. 2008). Estimates of global ocean BNF range from 60 to 200 Tg N yr-1 (Duce et al. (2008). The global ET map we used was developed using satellite data and a biometeorological approach by Fisher et al. 2002) and Pacific (Deutsch et al. we used reported estimates of BNF rates over tropical Atlantic (Lee et al. we therefore used the mean of central and conservative regressions between BNF and ET from Cleveland et al.

We only considered observations from 1996 to 2006 to ensure overlap with the period of our satellite-derived fire emissions time series. The model somewhat underestimated NO3-N wet deposition and overestimated NH4-N dry deposition. About 75% of the wet deposition rates and 80% of the dry deposition rates agreed within ±50% with the observations. Altogether. Based on the original data. Overall. The location and time period of these measurements. For locations that had measurements only during 1996. are summarized in Table S1. This agreement was similar to previous comparisons of N deposition between models and observations (Lamarque et al. we compared the deposition rates with our 10-year (1997–2006) mean model results. as well observed and modeled deposition rates. Dentener et al.RESULTS Validation of wet and dry deposition Relative to Northern Hemisphere industrial regions. fewer N deposition measurements exist for tropical land and ocean regions. the model simulation corresponded reasonably well to wet and dry deposition observations at non-urban sites (Fig. 1).. 11 . 2006). we calculated wet and dry deposition rates for total oxidized N (NO3-N) and reduced N (NH4-N) with units of kg N ha-1 yr-1. which were sampled in grid cells corresponding to observations during the month when observations were available. Here we compiled wet and dry N deposition measurements in tropical regions published in recent years.. we reported wet and dry deposition rates from 26 non-urban stations. 2005. We compared these observations with modeled deposition fluxes. We differentiated urban and non-urban observations according to the description of the site in the original literature or the proximity of the measurement station to an urban center.

1.with maxima on the perimeter of the Congo basin in Africa (up to 9. Gross N emissions from fires Emissions of Nr and N2 by fires were 10. with these two biomes accounting for 67% of global fire N emissions (Fig. N deposition rates from biomass burning Fire emissions represented a considerable fraction of N deposition in the tropics (See Fig.Simulations were more strongly correlated with measurements for dry deposition than for wet deposition.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1) in tropical forests. as well as in deforestation regions (See Fig.7 kg N ha-1 yr-1). and across the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. S3).9 kg N ha-1 yr-1). eastern Bolivia.3 12 . In contrast to non-urban sites.5 kg N ha-1 yr-1) in savannas and 5.4 Tg N yr-1 (6. S2) in South America and Southeast Asia. in southern Borneo in equatorial Asia (up to 9. so they were not included in our linear regressions. which were likely affected by nearby fossil fuel emissions (Fig. Urban data were generally not representative of the 2°×2. and Paraguay in South America (up to 5. 1). 2a and Table 1). We note most of these urban measurement sites were located in Southeast Asia.5° grid cells in the model.3 Tg N yr-1 (3. Deposition rates were highest near source regions . the model was generally biased low relative to the high urban data. Losses directly to N2 accounted for about half of the total N emissions flux. This fraction was slightly higher for savannas than for tropical forests because of more complete combustion (and lower CO/CO2 ratios in savannas). High emission rates occurred in African savannas. as indicated by the r values shown in Fig.

Wet deposition accounted for a larger fraction of total deposition in Southeast Asia (57%) and Northern Hemisphere (NH) Africa (55%) than in South America (46%) or Southern Hemisphere (SH) Africa (39%). Model estimates of the total deposition rate for oxidized N and reduced N were similar. The relative importance of wet deposition as an atmospheric loss pathway increased towards the end of the fire season on all three continents (Fig. Separation of N deposition by its oxidation form is important for assessing N deposition effects on ecosystem function. These results imply that undisturbed forest and savanna ecosystems in these regions (e. can reduce base cation uptake by plants (de Graaf et al. 3).. S2). 1998). parks and other protected areas) experience relatively high N deposition from nearby deforestation and savanna fires. Savanna ecosystems in Africa and South America and tropical deforestation frontiers in all three regions experienced a net loss of N (Figs. Net gains at a 13 .. Total wet deposition was comparable to total dry deposition across the tropics. 2b). 2c.g. causing changes in species composition in ecosystems such as heathlands (van der Berg et al. About 2/3 of the total N wet deposition occurred in the gas phase (NH3 and HNO3).kg N ha-1 yr-1) (Fig. for example. probably as a consequence of increasing precipitation levels. Changes in N surface budgets caused by fire emissions The emission and deposition of N from fires led to a net loss of N from the terrestrial biosphere and a redistribution of N among ecosystems. although regionally the relative importance of these two pathways varied. 2008) and peatlands (Paulissen et al. Seasonal variations in N deposition were closely linked with the timing of fire emissions (Fig. 3). 2004).. Reduced N.

corresponding to 6. forests at the deforestation frontier in South America and Southeast Asia had a large net N loss at a regional scale from fire emissions. the net effect of remote tropical fires was an increase atmospheric deposition. For interior forests in Africa. for example. only 53% was returned to savannas via deposition. net N losses at the deforestation frontier (38%) were 14 .7 kg N ha-1 yr-1). net fire N losses were equal to 28% of BNF (4. 2008). because a larger proportion of fire emissions were associated with deforestation in tropical forests. with 55% of Nr emissions remaining within these ecosystems via deposition in nearby areas. net losses were higher (35%). In interior tropical forests that were removed from the deforestation frontier (areas with fire emissions below our 500 kg C ha-1 yr-1 threshold). in the Congo basin) and over the tropical Atlantic Ocean (Fig.. Of the directly emitted Nr from African savanna fires. Net fire losses were equal to approximately 39% of BNF in savanna ecosystems in Africa. Most of the remainder was deposited in downwind tropical forests (e. Overall.regional scale occurred in interior tropical forests and over tropical oceans.7 kg N ha-1 yr-1 in savanna ecosystems (Table S2). In contrast. the net atmospheric flux from fires was 0. 2006..g.19 Tg N yr-1 or 6. In Southeast Asia..83 Tg N yr-1 or 2. tropical forest fires had a net N loss equal to approximately 10% of BNF (2. For savannas across all three continents. corresponding to approximately 16% of BNF.46 Tg N yr-1 (3. Van der Werf et al. 2b). Tropical forests received large N deposition inputs from savanna fires but also lost N through deforestation fires. Expressed as a percentage of BNF.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1). where fire return times were lower than on other continents (Giglio et al.0 kg N ha-1 yr-1). The net loss of N (Nr and N2) from savanna ecosystems was largest in Africa (Table 1).

However.7 kg N ha-1 yr-1) from fires in Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia. owing to high levels of fire emissions in Africa and the prevalent westerly wind during the fire season (see Fig. The highest levels of Nr and N2 fire emissions occurred at ~7°N in the northern hemisphere and ~10°S in the southern hemisphere. 2). BNF was highest near the equator and decreased to the north and south with decreasing ET (Fig. S4). This pattern is consistent with analysis of lidar measurements from Manaus that show long range transport of smoke and dust from Africa (Ansmann et al.even higher than in savanna ecosystems. 2 and Table 1). The tropical Atlantic. Evergreen broadleaf forests were distributed mostly between 5°N and 5°S and were bordered to the north and south by savannas (Fig.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1 (Fig. a substantial amount of fire-emitted Nr was transported equatorward and 15 . 4a). A small amount of the N from African fire emissions was transported across the Atlantic and deposited over South America. Redistribution of N between ecosystems in Africa Fires caused a net transport of N from savannas to interior forests in tropical Africa (Fig. A portion of Nr emitted from savanna fires was deposited back in savannas. in particular. received high N deposition fluxes – up to 3. was similar to that of fire emissions but with a small equatorward shift in peak deposition in the NH. 4b). Tropical oceans were a large recipient of N from fire emissions.. The N deposition pattern.85 Tg N yr-1) of fire-emitted N was deposited over oceans. The southern part of South China Sea also received substantial N deposition (up to 2. 2009). especially that for dry deposition. Approximately 37% (2.

wet deposition.deposited in tropical forests. received relatively small N deposition fluxes from fire emissions. 4c). which corresponded to the NH fire season. when winds to the north carried emissions from SH savannas to interior tropical forests. prevailing winds were to the south (Fig. 16 . atmospheric transport. In NH winter. and deposition resulted in a net transport of N from savannas to forests in Africa (Fig. subsequently. The combined effects of biomass burning emissions. Prevailing winds in South America and Southeast Asia also caused transport of fire emissions toward interior (and relatively undisturbed) areas of the Amazon and the Indonesian archipelago (Fig. The Sahara and Kalahari deserts. This equatorward transport pattern was not unique to Africa. 4f and Fig. S4). The transport was reversed in NH summer. respectively. which were located upwind of the African savanna regions during the fire seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres. 2c). Convective lifting of air masses near the equator increased precipitation and.

Most fires occurred in savannas and in areas that were undergoing active deforestation. the net transport of N from savannas to forests in Africa was larger than that observed in South America or Asia. Interior tropical forests gained N equivalent to 4% of their BNF. 2006. toward the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) (See Fig. 2009) and African (Lewis et al.. 2008).. Ciais et al. This atmospheric transport of N was closely related to the seasonality of fire emissions and meteorological patterns in tropics.DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS We estimated emissions and deposition of N from tropical fires.. 2009) forests. Specifically.. 2004) of long-term increases in carbon storage observed within Amazonian (Phillips et al.. The Hadley circulation carried emissions from these fires equatorward. Although modeling studies suggest tropical forests have great potential to increase net primary production in response to elevated levels of carbon dioxide (Friedlingstein et al. In tropical Africa. a key uncertainty is whether nutrient availability can keep pace with photosynthesis to allow for long-term increases in 17 . intact tropical forests. The cross biome transport of N described here strengthens the case for increases in nutrient deposition serving as a key driver (e. the prevailing winds carried fire emissions from savannas to tropical forest during both NH and SH fire seasons. Our results indicated a redistribution of N between different types of tropical ecosystems. S4).. we found an equatorward transport of N from fires in savannas and at active deforestation frontiers to interior. As a consequence of widespread savanna burning in Africa. On average. A significant amount of N from this zonal transport was removed by wet and dry deposition over relatively undisturbed tropical forests. fire N losses were equivalent to 28% of BNF in savannas and 38% of BNF for ecosystems at the deforestation frontier.g. Lewis et al.

. free air carbon dioxide enrichment studies from mid-latitude forests show that rates of carbon accumulation in response to elevated levels of carbon dioxide increase when nutrient availability is enhanced (Oren et al. Our analysis shows how concentrated fire use for deforestation.. and land use in neighboring savanna regions may be enhancing nutrient availability in nearby tropical forest ecosystems– and thus increasing the sensitivity of these ecosystems to changing levels of atmospheric CO2. the net effect of the advancing deforestation frontier is therefore to expand the area under fire management and to increase the proximity of savanna fires to highly productive interior forests.biomass (e.. 2005).. Indeed. it is 18 . 2004). may additionally increase the nutrient loading to forests near the deforestation frontier. 2004. In parallel to the patterns shown here for N. including the use of N fertilizer in agriculture after forest clearing and increases in dust. Davidson et al. In terms of assessing the net impact of land use change on global levels of atmospheric CO2. 2007). Hungate et al. Luo et al. 2005). Satellite-based fire detections suggest that fire use for pasture and cropland management sustains high fire activity following deforestation (Schroeder et al. 2001). fire-emitted black carbon aerosols have been shown to contribute in important ways to phosphorous deposition in tropical forests within the Amazon (Mahowald et al. increased nutrient loading by deposition of fire emissions in intact and secondary tropical forest ecosystems may partially offset some of the carbon losses associated with tropical deforestation.g. 2003... Other land use-related changes in nutrient cycling. management of deforested areas... The impacts of these deposition fluxes for carbon accumulation may be largest in younger secondary forests where nitrogen and phosphorous limitation are most pronounced (Davidson et al. In this context.

decomposition and fire carbon loss pathways from deforestation may not lead to substantially different outcomes..important to further refine our understanding of the fire-emitted component of deforestation carbon losses (e. First. increases in atmospheric N deposition by anthropogenic activity may be partially offset by lower rates of N fixation (Krishnamurthy et al. 2009. DeFries et al.. including phytoplankton primary production and the health of coral reefs... 2007. In terms of atmospheric CO2 levels. currently there are not enough observations to derive a global map of ocean N fixation (Capone et al. changes in aerosol optical depth and diffuse light (Oliveira et al. Mercado et al. the ratio is much higher in coastal regions in Africa and Southeast Asia (Table 1).. these loss pathways are fundamentally different. N is generally considered a primary limiting nutrient for phytoplankton biomass accumulation in marine ecosystems. However. A large portion (~37%) of N from savanna and forest fires is carried to and deposited over tropical oceans (Table 1). this deposition is relatively small (2%) compared to BNF and also with respect to N transport to surface waters by upwelling (Capone et al.. for example. However. Detailed analysis of the effect of atmospheric N deposition on marine ecosystems is complex for several reasons. particularly in coastal systems (Rabalais. Doughty et al. 2003). 19 . In equatorial Asia after the 1997/1998 El Nino. 2009). Averaged over the whole tropical ocean. 2005). Second. Nevertheless. 2005)... 2007).. and human health impacts. methane. 2008). ozone. Further work is needed to identify how nutrient loading from fires affects marine ecosystem function in these highly impacted areas. for redistribution of nutrients. coral reef death was attributed to extraordinary red tide caused by deposition of iron from fire emissions (Abram et al.g. 2002).

. http://www.igac.php).noaa. More detailed measurements of N losses to N2 during fires also are needed to reduce uncertainties associated with pyrodenitrification. Better measurements are required to improve the model simulation of N transport and deposition. Although considerable effort has gone into improving our understanding of the deposition of chemical species in tropics (e. including N deposition measurements near deforestation regions and improved estimates of fire emissions associated with deforestation. Finally. an improved understanding of the fate of N lost during deforestation and N cycling during post-deforestation land use may enable us to better quantify human impacts on N cycling in tropical the Deposition of Biogeochemically Important Trace Species (DEBITS) network. A quantitative understanding of this transport pathway is currently limited by several different types of observations. 20 . measurements of tropical N deposition are still sparse compared to the density of available observations in temperate regions.Here we show that N emissions from savanna and deforestation fires lead to deposition in tropical forest ecosystems as a consequence of atmospheric transport associated with the ITCZ.g.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work was funded by NASA NNX08AF64G. 21 .S. Kasibhatla P. was partially supported by the grant NNX08AL03G from Duke University. The GEOS-Chem model is managed by the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling group at Harvard University with support from the NASA Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program.

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04 0. 2.81 0.32 0 2. ‘Total tropics’ refers to regions within 30°S-30°N.54 0. N fluxes from fires over tropical regions1.12 0. and Southeast Asia are shown in Fig.52 12.63 0 1.00 0 0.28 -1.54 0.87 2.49 0. 2008) greater than 1%.83 0.22 0.85 % of BNF -3 16 -5 -39 6 -4 1 -21 -10 3 -35 8 -60 -35 6 -10 4 -38 -28 2 288 123 5 921 2966 693 390 64 397 1494 304 16 56 112 2523 1409 529 145 1610 19530 Frontier4 Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior South America Frontier Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior Southeast Asia Frontier Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior Total tropics Frontier Savanna Ocean 1 The domains of tropical regions in Africa.41 0 Deposition of fireemitted N Tg N yr-1 1.52 0.70 2. 31 .83 20.44 27. Here it is defined as region with forest cover greater than 10% and the fraction of forest loss during 2000-2005 (Hansen et al.34 1.07 0.21 0.01 2.5° grid cell with fraction of evergreen broad leaf forest (from MODIS 500 m land cover product) over 70% and the 10-year average fire emission rate (from GFEDv2) smaller than 500 kg C ha-1 yr-1.82 -0.13 0. South America.62 0.32 -7.01 0.55 3.11 15.03 0 Fire emissions of N2 Tg N yr-1 0.90 0.67 0.07 -0.01 4.15 1. In this study.80 0.17 0.67 0.22 4.69 9.63 0.32 0 2.58 0 1.04 0.87 -2.75 2.88 5.31 1.21 0. 2 3 Estimated using the mean of central and conservative regressions between BNF and ET as given in Cleveland et al.28 0.05 0.39 0.46 -0.04 0.19 1.51 0.01 -6.29 15.21 0.56 -1.01 4.36 1.94 2.59 0.16 0. The values are 10 year (1997-2006) averaged.21 -0. (1999).42 2.51 8.80 28.66 0. Area Continent Region Mha Tropical forest Interior Africa 3 Biological Nitrogen Fixation2 Tg N yr-1 5.66 120.03 -0.46 13.. ‘Interior’ refers to tropical forest region that is rarely affected by human activities.12 0.19 0.69 0.64 0. 4 ‘Frontier’ refers to tropical forest region undergoing substantial anthropogenic deforestation.86 5.31 -0.61 0. it is defined as 2°×2.34 0 0.01 10.01 0.07 0.Table 1.70 0.70 0.12 0.85 % of BNF 20 19 13 14 6 4 2 8 5 3 13 13 18 9 6 9 6 12 10 2 Net fire N flux Tg N yr-1 -0.24 0.11 Fire emissions of Nr Tg N yr-1 0.

(2008). Red and blue points represent deposition rates for oxidized N (NO3-N) and reduced N (NH4-N). South America. 2). and tropical Southeast Asia (SEA) used in this paper. (e) N deposition from biomass burning. Gray points are observation stations near urban areas. with northward wind denoted as positive. (b) biological N fixation (kg N ha-1 yr-1) estimated from Cleveland et al. (c) meridional wind speed (m/s) at 850hPa. Figure 4: Latitudinal distributions of mean (a) fraction of forest and savanna cover. and triangles represent data for Africa. Blue and red colors represent N addition to and loss from terrestrial ecosystems. The values are the 10 year (1997-2006) mean from the GEOS-Chem simulation.FIGURE CAPTIONS Figure 1: Comparison of observed and modeled N wet and dry deposition rates (kg N ha-1 yr-1) in tropical regions. respectively. circles. The net fire N flux includes both losses from Nr and N2 emissions and gains from N deposition. SH Africa. and in Southeast Asia. South America. and 2:1 relationships. 1:2. and Southeast Asia (the domains are defined in Fig. Figure 3: Seasonal variability of total dry and wet deposition (Tg N yr-1) of N from biomass burning over NH Africa. (b) N deposition from biomass burning. (1999) using a global map of ET from Fisher et al. and (f) net fire N and Nr fluxes (kg 32 . (d) N emissions from fires. Dashed lines indicate 1:1. Filled diamonds. respectively. Solid pink boxes define the domains of tropical Africa (AFR). Red and blue solid lines show linear regression fits for NO3-N and NH4-N deposition rates. and (c) net fire N flux with respect to the surface. Figure 2: Simulated 10-year average (a) N emissions from fires (the sum of Nr and N2). tropical South America (SAM). The values are in kg N ha-1 yr-1.

the Sahara desert. The meridional wind speed. The net fire Nr flux includes losses from Nr emissions and gains from N deposition. The values are 10 year (1997-2006) averaged. 10°E-30°E). 33 . is averaged over February (representing fire season in NH) and August (representing fire season in NH). and the Karahari desert in Southwest Africa. SH savanna. derived from GEOS-4 reanalysis data. tropical forest. from north to south.N ha-1 yr-1) for tropical African region (30°S-30°N. NH savanna. This domain covers.

Figure 1 34 .

Figure 2 35 .

Figure 3 36 .

Figure 4 37 .

CO/CO2 ratio Figure S2 Forest cover loss due to deforestation and tropical ecosystem masks Figure S3 Biomass emission and wind vectors Table S1 Summary of N deposition observations Table S2 N fluxes from fires in tropical regions– expressed in units per unit of land area 38 .SUPPORTING INFORMATION The following Supporting Information is available for this article: Figure S1 N2-N/Nr-N ratio vs.

Figure S1. 39 . and extratropical forest fires. and dotted vertical lines represent the CO/CO2 values for savanna fires. excluding two pine needles samples (gray points) because of the limited abundance of conifer plant functional types in tropical regions. dashed. respectively. tropical forest fires. The dash-dotted. We also excluded three wood points below the N2 detection limit. 1991). N2-N/Nr-N ratio as a function of CO/CO2 ratio. Data are based on results from a chamber experiment (Kuhlbusch et al..

(2008). (c) Tropical savanna cover fraction (%). (b) Tropical forest cover fraction (%). 40 .5º resolution. (a) Deforestation within the humid tropics during 2000-2005. shown as the percent loss within each 0.5º cell. The tropical ecosystem cover fractions and masks were derived from MODIS 500 m land cover product.Figure S2.5º×0. The original data were compiled by Hansen et al. (d) Tropical ecosystem masks in 2º×2.

Inserted plots show the mean values and fire contribution fractions for three tropical regions as defined in Fig. Latitudinal distribution of Nr emission and deposition rates (kg N ha-1 yr-1) from fire and other sources. The values are 10 year (1997-2006) averaged. 2.Figure S3. 41 .

Figure S4. Red shaded areas depict the Nr emissions (kg N ha-1 yr-1) from biomass burning for these months (10-year average). 42 . The full length of an arrow represents a wind speed of ~20m/s. The GEOS-4 wind vectors at 850hPa in tropical regions for February and August. 2004.

.60 1. Brazil Andean montane forest. Niger Louis Trichardt. Averaged over 4 sites Boy et al. 1998-2003 Apr-Jul.90 0.26 1. value in kg N ha -1 month-1 Trebs et al. 1998-2003 09/2002 10/2002 11/2002 1996 1.83 1.75 0..31 0. RSA Africa Lamto. Data available online: http://www. 2003 Galy-Lacaux et al. 2006..84 0.97 (kg N ha-1 yr-1) 3. 2002 05/1998-04/2003 04/1999-02/2001 1999 08/1997-07/1998 Aug-Mar.07 2.08 2.96 (kg N ha-1 yr-1) 1.29 2.53 1.00 1. Brazil Rondônia. Mali Rondônia.83 Sigha-nkamdjou et al.09 0. RSA Banizoumbou.62 2.26 11. 2002 Acid deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia NO3-N (mod) NH4-N (obs) NH4-N (mod) Reference 43 ..24 0.07 3.1999 1995 .04 0.13 0.63 0.86 0.08 1. Brazil Petit Sault..67 0. 2009 Trebs et al. 2006 Boy et al. 2006 Galy-Lacaux et al.. French Guyana South America Piracicaba River EANET 3º10' N 13º20' N 23º00' S 6º N 25º S 13º20' N 12º30' N 10º04' S 4º S 21º48' S 5º21' S 22º54' S 4º S 4º S 10º04' S 10º04' S 10º04' S 4º28' N 11º58' E 2º25' E 30º02' E 5º W 31º38' E 2º25' E 8º5' W 61º56' W 79º05' W 48º11' W 53º41' W 47º03' W 79º05' W 79º05' W 61º56' W 61º56' W 61º56' W 101º22' E 09/1996 – 04/2000 06/1996 – 10/1996 1986 . Updated in Galy-Lacaux et al. List of wet and dry N deposition observations and corresponding simulated values at non-urban sites in tropical regions.80 1. value in kg N ha -1 month-1 Trebs et al.Table S1.14 6º15' S 106º34' E 2001 .52 0..06 2.02 2.56 2. Ecuador Araraquara.25 0.57 4.73 1.80 0.. Indonesia Asia Kototabang..10 0.20 0.88 1.93 0.83 2.22 0. Côte d'Ivoire Skukuza.58 1. 2005 Lara et al. 2008 Boy et al. 1998 Mphepya et al.86 0..42 0.02 (EANET)... value in kg N ha -1 month-1 Ayers et al.99 1. Niger Katibougou.. NO3-N (obs) Region Location Latitude Longitude Time (kg N ha-1 yr-1) Zoétélé. The shaded rows represent dry deposition measurements and other rows represent wet deposition measurements.. 2005 Mphepya et al..97 2.eanet. Cameroon Banizoumbou. 2004. 2009 Yoboué et al. Brazil Andean montane forest.89 1.71 0.28 0.73 4. 2008 Trebs et al.52 0.00 0.10 0.. 2006. 2006.2002 07/1999-06/2002 06/1994-09/2005 1997-2005 Sep-Nov.05 2.. 2007. 2005 Yoboué et al.03 0.81 0. Brazil Tanah Rata. Malaysia Southeast Serpong.92 2. Ecuador Andean montane forest.2005 8.20 0..06 1.95 2.60 0.63 1. Brazil Rondônia. Ecuador Rondônia.29 0.23 0..26 1. 2009 Galy-Lacaux et al.84 1.44 2.56 0.88 0.78 0.09 0. Indonesia 0º12' S 100º19' E 2000 – 2005 4.38 (kg N ha-1 yr-1) 4.57 0.18 1.60 0.28 0.67 1. 2008 Da Rocha et al.83 1.

31 2.55 2. Thailand Vachiralongkorn Dam.95 6.71 1.16 1.Tanah Rata.62 0.53 2.07 1.08 3.59 2.01 2.66 1.48 3.55 1.23 1.2005 2.69 EANET EANET EANET EANET EANET EANET 44 . Thailand Hoa Binh.93 5.93 0.08 3. Vietnam 4º28' N 14º02' N 14º4' N 14º46' N 18º46' N 20º49' N 101º22' E 100º46' E 101º37' E 98º35' E 98º56' E 105º20' E 2000 – 2005 2000 – 2005 2000 – 2001 2002 – 2005 2001 – 2005 2000 . Thailand Khao Lam.74 10.01 5. Malaysia Patumthani.58 4.93 3. Thailand Mae Hia.31 1.

0 0.2 6.4 30.3 1.2 6.9 1.4 25.2 3.4 0.1 4.1 3.9 0.3 0.2 2.2 1.4 25.8 0.8 0 1.1 -9.8 25.7 0.8 0 1.4 25.6 3.3 0 0.0 1.5 0 3.2 Fire emissions of Nr kg N ha-1 yr-1 2.9 2.4 3.9 0.2 -6.2 1.9 1.0 0.2 5.9 -2.5 25.8 -14.3 -2.9 0.5 1.0 2.8 0. Same as Table 1 but expressed in units per unit of ecosystem area (kg N ha-1 yr-1).Table S2.5 1.1 0 Fire emissions of N2 kg N ha-1 yr-1 2.3 2.8 1.3 1.7 0.1 -4.1 % of BNF -3 16 -5 -39 6 -4 1 -21 -10 3 -35 8 -60 -35 6 -10 4 -38 -28 2 45 .0 0.2 -5.4 30.3 1.4 9.4 25.1 0.7 0 1.0 0.2 -4.7 4.5 0.5 2.5 -4.9 3.4 0.1 % of BNF 20 19 13 14 6 4 2 8 5 3 13 13 18 9 6 9 6 12 10 2 Net fire N flux kg N ha-1 yr-1 -0.5 9.1 4.2 3.2 6.4 30.9 0.4 25.7 -1.4 -1.4 0 Deposition of fireemitted N kg N ha-1 yr-1 4.4 25.6 0 3.2 4.4 0.4 25.2 6.4 25.3 0.8 25. Area Continent Region Mha Tropical forest Interior Africa Frontier Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior South America Frontier Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior Southeast Asia Frontier Savanna Ocean Tropical forest Interior Total tropics Frontier Savanna Ocean 288 123 5 921 2966 693 390 64 397 1494 304 16 56 112 2523 1409 529 145 1610 19530 Biological Nitrogen Fixation kg N ha-1 yr-1 25.2 5.4 30.3 2.5 2.

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