Environment Celebration Institute

Winter Soil CO2 Flux

Shen H, Cao J, Zhang W, Zeng X, Wang H. (2014). Winter Soil CO2 Flux from Different Mid-Latitude Sites from Middle Taihang Mountain in North China. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091589.


Winter soil respiration is a very important component of the annual soil carbon flux in some ecosystems. We hypothesized that, with all other factors being equal, shorter winter SR result in reduced contribution to annual soil C flux. In this study, the contribution of winter soil respiration to annual soil respiration was measured for three sites (grassland: dominated by Artemisia sacrorum, Bothriochloa ischaemum and Themeda japonica; shrubland: dominated byVitex negundo var. heterophylla; plantation: dominated by Populus tomatosa) in a mountainous area of north China. Diurnal and intra-annual soil CO2 flux patterns were consistent among different sites, with the maximum soil respiration rates at 12:00 or 14:00, and in July or August. The lowest respiration rates were seen in February. Mean soil respiration rates ranged from 0.26 to 0.45 µmol m−2 s−1 in the winter (December to February), and between 2.38 to 3.16 µmol m−2 s−1 during the growing season (May-September). The winter soil carbon flux was 24.6 to 42.8 g C m−2, which contributed 4.8 to 7.1% of the annual soil carbon flux. Based on exponential functions, soil temperature explained 73.8 to 91.8% of the within year variability in soil respiration rates. The Q10 values of SR against ST at 10 cm ranged from 3.60 to 4.90 among different sites. In addition, the equation between soil respiration and soil temperature for the growing season was used to calculate the “modeled” annual soil carbon flux based on the actual measured soil temperature. The “measured” annual value was significantly higher than the “modeled” annual value. Our results suggest that winter soil respiration plays a significant role in annual soil carbon balance, and should not be neglected when soil ecosystems are assessed as either sinks or sources of atmospheric CO2.

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