Articles | Volume 11, issue 18
Biogeosciences, 11, 5199–5213, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 5199–5213, 2014

Research article 29 Sep 2014

Research article | 29 Sep 2014

Carbon losses from pyrolysed and original wood in a forest soil under natural and increased N deposition

B. Maestrini1, S. Abiven1, N. Singh1, J. Bird2, M. S. Torn3, and M. W. I. Schmidt1 B. Maestrini et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Queens College, City University of New York, 11367, Flushing, New York, USA
  • 3Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Science Division, 94720, Berkeley, USA

Abstract. Pyrogenic organic matter (PyOM) plays an important role as a stable carbon (C) sink in the soils of terrestrial ecosystems. However, uncertainties remain about in situ turnover rates of fire-derived PyOM in soil, the main processes leading to PyOM-C and nitrogen (N) losses from the soil, and the role of N availability on PyOM cycling in soils.

We measured PyOM and native soil organic carbon losses from the soil as carbon dioxide and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) using additions of highly 13C-labelled PyOM (2.03 atom %) and its precursor pinewood during 1 year in a temperate forest soil. The field experiment was carried out under ambient and increased mineral N deposition (+60 kg N-NH4NO3 ha−1 year−1). The results showed that after 1 year: (1) 0.5% of PyOM-C and 22% of wood-C were mineralized as CO2, leading to an estimated turnover time of 191 and 4 years, respectively; (2) the quantity of PyOM and wood lost as dissolved organic carbon was negligible (0.0004 ± 0.0003% and 0.022 ± 0.007% of applied-C, respectively); and (3) N additions decreased cumulative PyOM mineralization by 43%, but did not affect cumulative wood mineralization and did not affect the loss of DOC from PyOM or wood. We conclude that mineralization to CO2 was the main process leading to PyOM losses during the first year of mineralization in a forest soil, and that N addition can decrease PyOM-C cycling, while added N showed no effect on wood C cycling.

Final-revised paper