Human-Induced Yearly N2O Emissions

What are Human-Induced Yearly N2O Emissions?

These are the total yearly nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from human activities expressed as weight in megatonnes (Mt). In the scientific literature, they are referred to as anthropogenic N2O emissions. Examples of human emissions include the agricultural use of synthetic fertilizer and manure and fossil fuel emissions as well as other sources, as you can see in the next breakdown chart.

Breakdown of Human-Induced Yearly N2O Emissions

Human-induced emissions are the main driver of the increasing atmospheric nitrous oxide that is warming our planet.

Wikipedia: Nitrous Oxide Emissions

Units and measures

The unit megatonne (Mt) describes the weight of emitted nitrous oxide per year.

Wikipedia: Megatonne

Insights from this chart

There has been a strong increase in human-induced nitrous oxide emissions since the 1940s from less than 2 Mt per year up to 10 Mt per year, mostly due to the increased emissions from agriculture due to synthetic fertilizers and manure management.

All of the human-induced nitrous oxide emissions, currently 10 Mt per year, end up in the atmosphere. The yearly increase of atmospheric nitrous oxide in the atmosphere is currently around 6 Mt per year. The difference, around 4 Mt, is due to natural sinks that remove nitrous oxide from the atmosphere, largely because of photochemical breakdown in the stratosphere (2nd layer of the atmosphere).

Breakdown of Human-Induced Yearly N2O Emissions
IPCC: AR6 Full Report, Anthropogenic N2O emissions

About the data

The PRIMAP-hist dataset is a rich dataset that combines several published sources to create a historical emissions time series for nitrous oxide and many other greenhouse gasses.


Data sources

PRIMAP-hist The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series (1750-2021)
Credits: Gütschow, J. and Pflüger, M.: The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series (1750-2021) v2.4.2 (2.4.2),, 2023.Update cycle: yearlyDelay: 1-2 years