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Increased nitrogen enrichment and shifted patterns in the world’s grassland: 1860–2014

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This paper is available in a repository.

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As the largest sector on the Earth’s land surface, the livestock system is not only a major contributor to global manure excreta that perturbs the global nutrient balance, but also a major emitter of greenhouse gases that warms the climate. Much attention has been paid to nitrogen (N) fertilizer and manure N applications to global croplands, however, there is still a lack of spatially-explicit estimates of continuous time-series datasets of manure and fertilizer N inputs in global grasslands. In this study, we therefore developed three global gridded datasets at a resolution of 0.5 degree × 0.5 degree for the period 1860–2014 (i.e., annual manure N deposition rate, synthetic N fertilizer use rate, and manure N application rate) by combining annual and 5-arc minute spatial data on pasture and rangeland with country-level manure and synthetic fertilizer N data from the Food and Agricultural Organization database (FAOSTAT). We found that total N inputs, sum of manure N deposition, manure and fertilizer N application to global grassland systems increased from 15.5 to 103.8 Tg N yr −1 during 1860–2014. Manure N deposition accounted for 83.7 % of the total N inputs, whereas manure and fertilizer N application accounted for 7.7 % and 8.6 %, respectively, during 2000–2014. At the regional scale, hotspots of manure N deposition remained the same during 1860–2014 (i.e., southern Asia, Africa, and South America), but hotspots of manure and fertilizer N application have shifted from Europe to southern Asia in the early 21st century. These three datasets could fill data gaps of N inputs in global and regional grasslands and serve as input drivers for ecosystem and biogeochemistry models to investigate the impacts of N enrichment on the global grassland system, greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental sustainability. Datasets available at .

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