Activity 1.3

Activity 1.3 - Development of Methodology for N fluxes and Distribution

As with the previous activity, the importance of this work lies in the multiple pathways and adverse effects of nitrogen in the environment. The different N flows include via human transfers (fertilizers and other N inputs or recycled products, trade in products), emissions to the atmosphere, atmospheric transport, atmospheric deposition, immobilization, leaching and run-off, catchment flows, inputs into estuarine and coastal environments, marine upwelling and denitrification. 

Different scientific traditions and methodologies are associated with the measurement of each of these component nitrogen fluxes, and equally with approaches for assessing the distribution of fluxes and concentrations. These different traditions result from the specialization of different research and monitoring communities, with the result that different conventions have developed which often lead to confusion when developing more integrated perspectives. For example, not only do the conventional paradigms differ (e.g. ‘threats of excess’ or ‘nutrient limitation’), but the sampling approaches and units used between disciplines differ. Each of these issues needed to be addressed in developing a more joined up methodology for nitrogen fluxes and distribution.

This activity is leading to an INMS guidance document on flux and distribution methods including a compendium to enable access to primary documentation on the component forms of N fluxes, concentrations and their distribution.

  • Task 1.3.1 is producing a scoping report that higlights the key issues that need to be considered, including the need to clarify agreed meaning of measurement parameters, definitions and preferred units. This will lead to improved cooperation of underpinning research and monitoring activities across the nitrogen cycle.

  • Based on the feedback to the scoping review, the planning team for this Activity is commissioning a group of background documents that will summarize and synthesize different nitrogen flux and distribution methods (Task 1.3.2).

  • The documents produced by tasks 1.3.1 and 1.3.2 are providing inputs to a workshop set up under task 1.3.3, that are addressing the harmonisation of methods for key nitrgoen fluxes.

  • Following the workshop, the background documents are being revised and extended according to the outcomes of the discussion. These are being assessmbled together including an overall executive summary of the key messages emerging, and a listing of the target audiences of the document. The draft final document will be presented to a plenary meeting of INMS for review and approval, after which it will be published by INMS in cooperation with the contributing organizations. (Task 1.3.4).

Activity 1.3 is being delivered under Component 1. The diagram below shows the tasks and task outputs deliviered for this activity.