Rock nitrogen : What you need to know
What is the issue ?
- Researchers have found that nearly 26% of nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from rocks.
What has the research revealed ?
- About 26% of nitrogen in natural ecosystems is sourced from rocks and is referred to as ‘rock nitrogen’.
- Nitrogen weathering is a globally significant source of nutrition to soils and ecosystems worldwide and may be playing a role in allowing forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought.
- But not just any rock can leach nitrogen. Rock nitrogen availability is determined by weathering, which can be physical (such as through tectonic movement), or chemical (such as when minerals react with rainwater.
- Large areas of Africa are devoid of nitrogen-rich bedrock while northern latitudes have some of the highest levels of rock nitrogen weathering.
- Mountainous regions like the Himalayas and Andes are estimated to be significant sources of rock nitrogen weathering, similar to those region's importance to global weathering rates and climate.
- Grasslands, tundra, deserts and woodlands also experience sizable rates of rock nitrogen weathering