The Nitrogen Cascade

  title={The Nitrogen Cascade},
  author={James N. Galloway and John D. Aber and Jan Willem Erisman and Sybil P. Seitzinger and Robert W. Howarth and Ellis Brevier Cowling and Bernard Cosby},
Abstract Human production of food and energy is the dominant continental process that breaks the triple bond in molecular nitrogen (N2) and creates reactive nitrogen (Nr) species. Circulation of anthropogenic Nr in Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere has a wide variety of consequences, which are magnified with time as Nr moves along its biogeochemical pathway. The same atom of Nr can cause multiple effects in the atmosphere, in terrestrial ecosystems, in freshwater and marine systems… 

Managing the Nitrogen Cascade: Analysis of the International Management of Reactive Nitrogen

Reactive nitrogen (Nr) plays a role in numerous environmental and human health concerns, including climate change, eutrophication, acid rain, respiratory illness and cancer. While produced naturally,

A chronology of human understanding of the nitrogen cycle†

The challenge for the current century is how to optimize the uses of N while minimizing the negative impacts, as most Nr created by humans is lost to the environment, resulting in a cascade of negative earth systems impacts.

The global nitrogen cycle

Global Nitrogen in Sustainable Development: Four Challenges at the Interface of Science and Policy

  • W. S. Martín
  • Environmental Science
    Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • 2020
Reactive nitrogen: Nitrogen contains chemical species that are readily converted to other compounds and are thus capable of cascading through the environment and impacting people and ecosystems.

The role of industrial nitrogen in the global nitrogen biogeochemical cycle

It is shown that the industrial N flux has increased globally from 2.5 to 25.4 Tg N yr−1 from 1960 through 2008, comparable to the NOx emissions from fossil fuel combustion, and that the loss of these Nr species to the environment has significant negative human and ecosystem impacts.

Toward a better understanding of cascading consequences of atmospheric reactive nitrogen along its transport pathway

Over the past century, the creation of nitrogenous fertilizer has sustained food production and thereby the global population. Nevertheless, all the nitrogen used in food production is added to the

A perspective on reactive nitrogen in a global, Asian and Indian context

Reactive nitrogen (Nr) includes the inorganic (NH 3 , NH + 4 , NO x , HNO 3 , N 2 O, NO - 3 ) and organic forms (urea, amines, proteins, nucleic acids) that readily participate in various reactions

- 1 Nitrogen cycles : past , present , and future

This paper contrasts the natural and anthropogenic controls on the conversion of unreactive N2 to more reactive forms of nitrogen (Nr). A variety of data sets are used to construct global N budgets

Human Alteration of the Nitrogen Cycle and Its Impact on the Environment

  • Jianing Hu
  • Environmental Science
    IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
  • 2018
Nitrogen(N) is a key element that controls the functions and dynamics of Earth’s various ecosystems. In recent years, however, human activities, including the use of N fertilizers and the combustion

Nitrogen–climate interactions in US agriculture

Agriculture in the United States (US) cycles large quantities of nitrogen (N) to produce food, fuel, and fiber and is a major source of excess reactive nitrogen (Nr) in the environment. Nitrogen lost



Reactive Nitrogen and The World: 200 Years of Change

The substantial regional variability in reactive nitrogen creation, its degree of distribution, and the likelihood of increased rates of reactive-N formation (especially in Asia in the future creates a situation that calls for the development of a Total Reactive Nitrogen Approach that will optimize food and energy production and protect environmental systems.


Nitrogen is a key element controlling the species composition, diversity, dynamics, and functioning of many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Many of the original plant species living

The Globalization of Nitrogen Deposition: Consequences for Terrestrial Ecosystems

Some of the conditions under which anthropogenic impacts can be significant, some of the factors that control variations in response, and some areas where uncertainty is large due to limited information are pointed to.

Industrial Ecology and Global Change: Human Impacts on the Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles

Abstract Human activities are substantially modifying the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. The global carbon cycle is being modified principally by the burning of fossil fuels, and also by

Nitrogen oxide emissions after nitrogen additions in tropical forests

Industrial development and agricultural intensification are projected to increase in the humid tropics over the next few decades, increasing the emissions, transport and deposition of

Beyond Science into Policy: Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia and the Mississippi River

C eutrophication is a major, global environmental problem that tracks increases in population and the concentration of those increases in coastal regions, increased agricultural production in

Where did all the nitrogen go? Fate of nitrogen inputs to large watersheds in the northeastern U.S.A.

To assess the fate of the large amounts of nitrogen (N) brought into the environment by human activities, we constructed N budgets for sixteen large watersheds (475 to 70,189 km2) in the northeastern

Nitrogen limitation on land and in the sea: How can it occur?

AbstractThe widespread occurrence of nitrogen limitation to net primary production in terrestrial and marine ecosystems is something of a puzzle; it would seem that nitrogen fixers should have a

Nitrogen cycling and anthropogenic impact in the tropical interamerican seas

We discuss the mechanisms leading to nutrient limitation in tropical marine systems, with particular emphasis on nitrogen cycling in Caribbean ecosystems. We then explore how accelerated nutrient