Articles | Volume 14, issue 4
Biogeosciences, 14, 799–815, 2017
Biogeosciences, 14, 799–815, 2017

Research article 23 Feb 2017

Research article | 23 Feb 2017

Growing season CH4 and N2O fluxes from a subarctic landscape in northern Finland; from chamber to landscape scale

Kerry J. Dinsmore1, Julia Drewer1, Peter E. Levy1, Charles George2, Annalea Lohila3, Mika Aurela3, and Ute M. Skiba1 Kerry J. Dinsmore et al.
  • 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, UK
  • 2Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Atmospheric Composition Research, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Subarctic and boreal emissions of CH4 are important contributors to the atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) balance and subsequently the global radiative forcing. Whilst N2O emissions may be lower, the much greater radiative forcing they produce justifies their inclusion in GHG studies. In addition to the quantification of flux magnitude, it is essential that we understand the drivers of emissions to be able to accurately predict climate-driven changes and potential feedback mechanisms. Hence this study aims to increase our understanding of what drives fluxes of CH4 and N2O in a subarctic forest/wetland landscape during peak summer conditions and into the shoulder season, exploring both spatial and temporal variability, and uses satellite-derived spectral data to extrapolate from chamber-scale fluxes to a 2 km  ×  2 km landscape area.

From static chamber measurements made during summer and autumn campaigns in 2012 in the Sodankylä region of northern Finland, we concluded that wetlands represent a significant source of CH4 (3.35 ± 0.44 mg C m−2 h−1 during the summer campaign and 0.62 ± 0.09 mg C m−2 h−1 during the autumn campaign), whilst the surrounding forests represent a small sink (−0.06 ± < 0.01 mg C m−2 h−1 during the summer campaign and −0.03 ± < 0.01 mg C m−2 h−1 during the autumn campaign). N2O fluxes were near-zero across both ecosystems.

We found a weak negative relationship between CH4 emissions and water table depth in the wetland, with emissions decreasing as the water table approached and flooded the soil surface and a positive relationship between CH4 emissions and the presence of Sphagnum mosses. Temperature was also an important driver of CH4 with emissions increasing to a peak at approximately 12 °C. Little could be determined about the drivers of N2O emissions given the small magnitude of the fluxes.

A multiple regression modelling approach was used to describe CH4 emissions based on spectral data from PLEIADES PA1 satellite imagery across a 2 km  ×  2 km landscape. When applied across the whole image domain we calculated a CH4 source of 2.05 ± 0.61 mg C m−2 h−1. This was significantly higher than landscape estimates based on either a simple mean or weighted by forest/wetland proportion (0.99 ± 0.16, 0.93 ± 0.12 mg C m−2 h−1, respectively). Hence we conclude that ignoring the detailed spatial variability in CH4 emissions within a landscape leads to a potentially significant underestimation of landscape-scale fluxes. Given the small magnitude of measured N2O fluxes a similar level of detailed upscaling was not needed; we conclude that N2O fluxes do not currently comprise an important component of the landscape-scale GHG budget at this site.

Short summary
Release of greenhouse gases from northern soils contributes significantly to the global atmosphere and plays an important role in regulating climate. This study, based in N. Finland, aimed to measure and understand release of CH4 and N2O, and using satellite imagery, upscale our results to a 2 × 2 km area. Wetlands released large amounts of CH4, with emissions linked to temperature and the presence of Sphagnum; landscape emissions were 2.05 mg C m−2 hr−1. N2O fluxes were consistently near-zero.
Final-revised paper