Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 7, 1425–1441, 2010
Biogeosciences, 7, 1425–1441, 2010

  06 May 2010

06 May 2010

Laboratory measurements of nitric oxide release from forest soil with a thick organic layer under different understory types

A. Bargsten1, E. Falge1, K. Pritsch2, B. Huwe3, and F. X. Meixner1,4 A. Bargsten et al.
  • 1Biogeochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, 55020 Mainz, Germany
  • 2Institute of Soil Ecology, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany
  • 3Soil Physics Department, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • 4Physics Department, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

Abstract. Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in the photochemistry of the troposphere. NO from soil contributes up to 40% to the global budget of atmospheric NO. Soil NO emissions are primarily caused by biological activity (nitrification and denitrification), that occurs in the uppermost centimeter of the soil, a soil region often characterized by high contents of organic material. Most studies of NO emission potentials to date have investigated mineral soil layers. In our study we sampled soil organic matter under different understories (moss, grass, spruce and blueberries) in a humid mountainous Norway spruce forest plantation in the Fichtelgebirge (Germany). We performed laboratory incubation and flushing experiments using a customized chamber technique to determine the response of net potential NO flux to physical and chemical soil conditions (water content and temperature, bulk density, particle density, pH, C/N ratio, organic C, soil ammonium, soil nitrate). Net potential NO fluxes (in terms of mass of N) from soil samples taken under different understories ranged from 1.7–9.8 ng m−2 s−1 (soil sampled under grass and moss cover), 55.4–59.3 ng m−2 s−1 (soil sampled under spruce cover), and 43.7–114.6 ng m−2 s−1 (soil sampled under blueberry cover) at optimum water content and a soil temperature of 10 °C. The water content for optimum net potential NO flux ranged between 0.76 and 0.8 gravimetric soil moisture for moss covered soils, between 1.0 and 1.1 for grass covered soils, 1.1 and 1.2 for spruce covered soils, and 1.3 and 1.9 for blueberry covered soils. Effects of soil physical and chemical characteristics on net potential NO flux were statistically significant (0.01 probability level) only for NH4+. Therefore, as an alternative explanation for the differences in soil biogenic NO emission we consider more biological factors like understory vegetation type, amount of roots, and degree of mycorrhization; they have the potential to explain the observed differences of net potential NO fluxes.

Final-revised paper