Articles | Volume 6, issue 11
27 Nov 2009
 | 27 Nov 2009

Mountain birch – potentially large source of sesquiterpenes into high latitude atmosphere

S. Haapanala, A. Ekberg, H. Hakola, V. Tarvainen, J. Rinne, H. Hellén, and A. Arneth

Abstract. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from mountain birches were measured in Abisko, northern Sweden. Mountain birches make up the majority of the tree biomass in Scandinavian high latitudes, a region subject to significant climate warming. The measurements were carried out in two growing seasons. The emissions of four branches, each from a different individual tree, were measured in June–August 2006 and one of them again in July 2007. The measurements were conducted using a dynamic flow through chamber covered with Teflon film. The studied mountain birches were found to emit substantial amounts of linalool, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. The monoterpene emission was dominated by sabinene. The magnitude and composition of the sesquiterpene emission changed dramatically between the years. For example, the average α-farnesene emission potential in 2006 was almost 2600 ng gdw−1 h−1 (3.5 pmol gdw−1 s−1) while in 2007 α-farnesene was not detected at all. Also the emissions of other sesquiterpenes decreased in 2007 to a fraction of that in 2006. One possible explanation for the change in emissions is the herbivory damage that occurred in the area in 2004. Herbivory is known to enhance the emissions of sesquiterpenes, especially those of α-farnesene, and the effect may last for several years.

Final-revised paper