Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
28 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 28 Jan 2014

Measurements of CO2 exchange with an automated chamber system throughout the year: challenges in measuring night-time respiration on porous peat soil

M. Koskinen, K. Minkkinen, P. Ojanen, M. Kämäräinen, T. Laurila, and A. Lohila

Abstract. We built an automatic chamber system to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) exchange in forested peatland ecosystems. We aimed to build a system robust enough which would work throughout the year and could measure through a changing snowpack in addition to producing annual GHG fluxes by integrating the measurements without the need of using models. The system worked rather well throughout the year, but it was not service free. Gap filling of data was still necessary.

We observed problems in carbon dioxide (CO2) respiration flux estimation during calm summer nights, when a CO2 concentration gradient from soil/moss system to atmosphere builds up. Chambers greatly overestimated the night-time respiration. This was due to the disturbance caused by the chamber to the soil-moss CO2 gradient and consequent initial pulse of CO2 to the chamber headspace. We tested different flux calculation and measurement methods to solve this problem. The estimated flux was strongly dependent on (1) the starting point of the fit after closing the chamber, (2) the length of the fit, (3) the type of the fit (linear and polynomial), (4) the speed of the fan mixing the air inside the chamber, and (5) atmospheric turbulence (friction velocity, u*). The best fitting method (the most robust, least random variation) for respiration measurements on our sites was linear fitting with the period of 120–240 s after chamber closure. Furthermore, the fan should be adjusted to spin at minimum speed to avoid the pulse-effect, but it should be kept on to ensure mixing. If night-time problems cannot be solved, emissions can be estimated using daytime data from opaque chambers.

Final-revised paper