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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  11 Jun 2020

11 Jun 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

N2O isotope approaches for source partitioning of N2O production and estimation of N2O reduction – validation with 15N gas-flux method in laboratory and field studies

Dominika Lewicka-Szczebak1, Maciej Piotr Lewicki2, and Reinhard Well3 Dominika Lewicka-Szczebak et al.
  • 1Centre for Stable Isotope Research and Analysis, University of Göttingen, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 2Institute of Theoretical Physics, Univeresity of Wrocław, pl. M. Borna 9, 50-204 Wrocław, Poland
  • 3Thünen-Institut of Climate-Smart Agriculture, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany

Abstract. The approaches based on natural abundance N2O stable isotopes are often applied for the estimation of mixing proportions between various N2O producing pathways as well as for estimation of the extent of N2O reduction to N2. But such applications are associated with numerous uncertainties and hence their limited accuracy needs to be considered. Here we present the first systematic validation of these methods for laboratory and field studies applying the 15N gas-flux method as the reference approach.

Besides applying dual isotope plots for interpretation of N2O isotopic data, for the first time we propose a three dimensional N2O isotopocule model based on Bayesian statistics to estimate the N2O mixing proportions and reduction extent based simultaneously on three N2O isotopic signatures (δ15N, δ15NSP and δ18O). Determination of mixing proportions of individual pathways with N2O isotopic approaches appears often imprecise, mainly due to imperfect isotopic separation of the particular pathways. Nevertheless, the estimation of N2O reduction is much more robust, when applying optimal calculation strategy, reaching typically accuracy of N2O residual fraction determination of about 0.1.

Dominika Lewicka-Szczebak et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Dominika Lewicka-Szczebak et al.

Dominika Lewicka-Szczebak et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This paper presents the first validation of N2O isotopic approaches for estimating N2O source pathways and N2O reduction. These approaches are widely used for tracing soil nitrogen cycling but the results of these estimations are very uncertain. Here we report the results from parallel treatments allowing precise validation of these approaches and propose the best strategies for results interpretation including the new idea of an isotope model integrating three isotopic signatures of N2O.
This paper presents the first validation of N2O isotopic approaches for estimating N2O source...