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Using Nuclear Science to Measure Greenhouse Gases

Producer: Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (NAFA)

The global climate is changing rapidly, leading to increasingly extreme weather events, mainly due to greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. More than 24% of these gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are emitted by agricultural practices, due to inappropriate changes in land use, excessive use of chemical fertilizers, increasing numbers of ruminants, and deforestation. Microbial processes in the soil convert nitrogen fertilizers and animal manure into nitrous oxide, which is then emitted into the atmosphere. To minimize this process, it is crucial to identify the origin and the extent of this emission.

This video shows how isotope techniques, using nitrogen-15 and carbon-13, are used to trace the movement and origin of nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide emissions and hence provide information pivotal in global efforts to develop the sustainable climate-smart agricultural practices that will shape the future.

The film is also available in ArabicFrench and Spanish.

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