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Carbon dioxide is produced by soil microbes through respiration, which is particularly fast when soils are moistened by rain. Will respiration increase with future more intense rains and longer dry spells? With a mathematical model, we show that wetter conditions increase respiration. In contrast, if rainfall totals stay the same, but rain comes all at once after long dry spells, the average respiration will not change, but the contribution of the respiration bursts after rain will increase.
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BG | Articles | Volume 17, issue 15
Biogeosciences, 17, 4007–4023, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-4007-2020
Biogeosciences, 17, 4007–4023, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-17-4007-2020

Research article 10 Aug 2020

Research article | 10 Aug 2020

Rainfall intensification increases the contribution of rewetting pulses to soil heterotrophic respiration

Stefano Manzoni et al.

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Cited articles

Augustine, D. J. and McNaughton, S. J.: Temporal asynchrony in soil nutrient dynamics and plant production in a semiarid ecosystem, Ecosystems, 7, 829–840, 2004. 
Barnard, R. L., Blazewicz, S. J., and Firestone, M. K.: Rewetting of soil: Revisiting the origin of soil CO2 emissions, Soil Biol. Biochem., 147, 107819, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.107819, 2020. 
Bauer, J., Herbst, M., Huisman, J. A., Weihermuller, L., and Vereecken, H.: Sensitivity of simulated soil heterotrophic respiration to temperature and moisture reduction functions, Geoderma, 145, 17–27, 2008. 
Birch, H. F.: The effect of soil drying on humus decomposition and nitrogen availability, Plant Soil, 10, 9–31, 1958. 
Boot, C. M., Schaeffer, S. M., and Schimel, J. P.: Static osmolyte concentrations in microbial biomass during seasonal drought in a California grassland, Soil Biol. Biochem., 57, 356–361, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.09.005, 2013. 
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Short summary
Carbon dioxide is produced by soil microbes through respiration, which is particularly fast when soils are moistened by rain. Will respiration increase with future more intense rains and longer dry spells? With a mathematical model, we show that wetter conditions increase respiration. In contrast, if rainfall totals stay the same, but rain comes all at once after long dry spells, the average respiration will not change, but the contribution of the respiration bursts after rain will increase.
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