Document Detail

Corn-based ethanol production compromises goal of reducing nitrogen export by the Mississippi River.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18332435     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Corn cultivation in the United States is expected to increase to meet demand for ethanol. Nitrogen leaching from fertilized corn fields to the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River system is a primary cause of the bottom-water hypoxia that develops on the continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico each summer. In this study, we combine agricultural land use scenarios with physically based models of terrestrial and aquatic nitrogen to examine the effect of present and future expansion of corn-based ethanol production on nitrogen export by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico. The results show that the increase in corn cultivation required to meet the goal of 15-36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by the year 2022 suggested by a recent U.S. Senate energy policy would increase the annual average flux of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) export by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers by 10-34%. Generating 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol by the year 2022 will increase the odds that annual DIN export exceeds the target set for reducing hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico to >95%. Examination of extreme mitigation options shows that expanding corn-based ethanol production would make the already difficult challenges of reducing nitrogen export to the Gulf of Mexico and the extent of hypoxia practically impossible without large shifts in food production and agricultural management.
Simon D Donner; Christopher J Kucharik
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2008-03-10
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  105     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2008 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-03-19     Completed Date:  2008-04-15     Revised Date:  2013-06-05    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  4513-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Computer Simulation
Ethanol / chemistry*,  metabolism*
Nitrogen / analysis*
Oceans and Seas
Rivers / chemistry*
Soil / analysis
Time Factors
United States
Zea mays / chemistry*,  metabolism*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Soil; 64-17-5/Ethanol; 7727-37-9/Nitrogen

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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