A new report published in Nature addresses the impact of nitrous oxide, or N2O, which is about 300 times as powerful as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
But the Nature study throws an unexpected twist into the N2O story. Biologists had long assumed that the farming of cattle and other livestock was part of the reason for rising nitrous oxide levels, because the animals’ grazing disrupts the natural cycle that draws nitrogen into the soil. Instead, according to new research, it turns out that in some places, grazing actually reduces N2O emissions. “It’s quite surprising,” says Steve Del Grosso, a soil scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins, Colo., who wrote a commentary accompanying the research in Nature.
Read more … (Time Magazine)