Net soil-atmosphere fluxes mask patterns in gross production and consumption of nitrous oxide and methane in a managed ecosystem

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Abstract

Nitrous oxide (N<sub>2</sub>O) and methane (CH<sub>4</sub>) are potent greenhouse gases that are both produced and consumed in soil. Production and consumption of these gases are driven by different processes, making it difficult to infer their controls when measuring only net fluxes. We used the trace gas pool dilution technique to simultaneously measure gross fluxes of N<sub>2</sub>O and CH<sub>4</sub> throughout the growing season in a cornfield in northern California, USA. Net N<sub>2</sub>O fluxes ranged from 0–4.5 mg N m<sup>&minus;2</sup> d<sup>&minus;1</sup> with the N<sub>2</sub>O yield averaging 0.68 ± 0.02. Gross N<sub>2</sub>O production was best predicted by net nitrogen (N) mineralization, soil moisture, and soil temperature (<i>R</i><sup>2</sup> = 0.60, <i>n</i> = 39, <i>p</i> < 0.001). Gross N<sub>2</sub>O reduction was correlated with the combination of gross N<sub>2</sub>O production rates, net N mineralization rates, and CO<sub>2</sub> emissions (<i>R</i><sup>2</sup> = 0.74, <i>n</i> = 39, <i>p</i> < 0.001). Overall, net CH<sub>4</sub> fluxes averaged &minus;0.03 ± 0.02 mg C m<sup>&minus;2</sup> d<sup>&minus;1</sup>. The methanogenic fraction of carbon mineralization ranged from 0 to 0.27 % and explained 40 % of the variability in gross CH<sub>4</sub> production rates (<i>n</i> = 37, <i>p</i> < 0.001). Gross CH<sub>4</sub> oxidation exhibited a strong positive relationship with gross CH<sub>4</sub> production rates (<i>R</i><sup>2</sup> = 0.67, <i>n</i> = 37, <i>p</i> < 0.001), which reached as high as 5.4 mg C m<sup>&minus;2</sup> d<sup>&minus;1</sup>. Our study is the first to demonstrate the simultaneous in situ measurement of gross N<sub>2</sub>O and CH<sub>4</sub> fluxes, and results highlight that net soil–atmosphere fluxes can mask significant gross production and consumption of these trace gases.

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Yang, W. H., & Silver, W. L. (2016). Net soil-atmosphere fluxes mask patterns in gross production and consumption of nitrous oxide and methane in a managed ecosystem. Biogeosciences, 13(5), 1705–1715. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-1705-2016

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