Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O) , commonly known as laughing gas, is an important greenhouse gas.

It is produced by bacteria in soils and oceans. Agriculture is the main source of human-produced nitrous oxide: cultivating soil, the use of nitrogen fertilizers, and animal waste handling can all stimulate naturally occurring bacteria to produce more nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is very stable and is mainly destroyed by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere.

Individual flask measurements of N2O at Baring Head (blue diamonds) have been fitted with a smoothed curve (grey line) using Seasonal Decomposition of Timeseries by Loess (STL). The black line shows the smoothed curve with the seasonal cycle removed.

The growth rate of N2O in the atmosphere calculated from monthly mean data that has had the seasonal cycle removed (gray). The blue line shows the growth rate after it has been smoothed with a 12 month running mean.

N2O at Baring Head
Rate of change of N2O at Baring Head