Comparison between eddy covariance and automatic chamber techniques for measuring net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide in cotton and wheat fields
Abstract. Static and transparent automatic chamber (AC) technique is a necessary choice for measuring net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in circumstances where eddy covariance (EC) technique is not applicable. However, a comparison of the two techniques for measurements on croplands has seldom been undertaken. We carried out NEE observations in a cotton field (for one year) and a winter wheat field (for one cropping season) using both AC and EC techniques, to (a) compare the NEE fluxes measured using each technique, and (b) test the NEE measurement performance of an automatic chamber system (AMEG), which was designed for simultaneous flux measurements of multiple gases. The half-hourly NEE fluxes measured with the two techniques were in approximate agreement, with the AC fluxes being 0.78 (cotton) and 1.06 (wheat) times the size of the EC fluxes. When integrated to daily timescale, the fluxes of the two techniques were in better agreement, showing an average ratio of 0.94 and 1.00 for the cotton and wheat, respectively. During the periods with comparable field conditions and normal performance of both instruments, the cumulative NEE fluxes revealed small differences between the two techniques (−9.0% ~ 7%, with a mean of 0.1%). The measurements resulted in an annual cumulative NEE of −40 g C m−2 yr−1 (EC) and −42 g C m−2 yr−1 (AC) in the cotton field, and a seasonal cumulative NEE of −251 g C m−2 (EC) and −205 g C m−2 (AC) in the wheat field. Our results indicate that, for cropland populated by short plants, the AMEG system and the data processing procedures applied in this study are able to provide NEE estimates comparable to those from EC measurements.