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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-105
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-105
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  03 Apr 2020

03 Apr 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal BG and is expected to appear here in due course.

CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes along an altitudinal gradient in the northern Ecuadorean Andes: N2O consumption at higher altitudes

Paula Alejandra Lamprea Pineda1, Marijn Bauters1,2, Hans Verbeeck2, Selene Baez3, Matti Barthel4, and Pascal Boeckx1 Paula Alejandra Lamprea Pineda et al.
  • 1Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS, Department of Green Chemistry and Technology, Ghent University, Gent, 9000 Belgium
  • 2Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology – CAVElab, Department of Environment, Ghent University, Gent, 9000 Belgium
  • 3Departamento de Biología, Escuela Politécnica Nacional del Ecuador, Ladrón de Guevera E11-253 y Andalucía, Quito, Ecuador
  • 4Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, 8092, Switzerland

Abstract. Tropical forest soils are an important contributor to the global greenhouse (GHG) budget and understanding this ecosystem function is of vital importance for future global change and climate research. In this study, we quantified soil fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) of four tropical forest sites located along an altitudinal gradient from 400 to 3010 m a.s.l. on the western flanks of the Andes in northern Ecuador. We assessed the physicochemical soil properties influencing these fluxes during the dry season, as well as the bulk isotopic signature of N2O. The CO2 fluxes ranged between 55.3±12.1 and 137.6 ± 32.8 mg C m−2 h−1, with the highest and lowest emissions at the highest strata, at 3010 and 2200 m a.s.l., respectively. CH4 fluxes at all sites exhibited a net consumption of atmospheric CH4 and ranged between −74.4 ± 25.0 µg C m−2 h−1 at 2200 m a.s.l. to −46.7 ± 14.7 µg C m−2 h−1 at 3010 m a.s.l. Net fluxes of N2O ranged between −5.1 ± 1.9 and 13.2 ± 31.3 µg N m−2 h−1, with a marked net sink at 2200 and 3010 m a.s.l., whereas a net source at 400 m. pHwater and nitrate (NO3) content at 5 cm depth were able to explain 83 % of the observed temporal (daily measurements) and spatial (four forest sites) variability of the CO2 fluxes; indicating that an increase in pHwater and NO3 contents lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. For CH4 fluxes, it was not possible to obtain a statistically significant model to identify the physicochemical soil drivers responsible for the CH4 consumption. For N2O, bulk density and pHwater at 5 cm depth were negatively correlated to the N2O fluxes, but able to explain only 36 % of the temporal and spatial variability. In addition, the bulk isotope N2O data confirmed that N2O reduction was at the basis of the observed net soil sink at higher altitudes. Finally, the soil GHG budget showed that all studied soils were net sources of GHG's. CO2 emissions represented the largest component of the total soil GHG budget, CH4 consumption was quite consistent along the elevation gradient, whereas N2O was highly variable, and the transition from sources to net sinks at higher altitudes represented the biggest change in the net GHG balance. Overall, for non-CO2 GHGs, we noticed a transition from a net source to a net GHG sink along altitude.

Paula Alejandra Lamprea Pineda et al.

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Paula Alejandra Lamprea Pineda et al.

Paula Alejandra Lamprea Pineda et al.

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Latest update: 23 Nov 2020
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Short summary
Besides the well-known role of tropical forests for CO2 capture, their soils can also consume CH4 and emit N2O, a GHG 300 times stronger than CO2. In this study, we quantified the soil emission/consumption of CO2, CH4 and N2O of tropical forests located in the northern Ecuadorian Andes. We observed a net consumption of N2O at higher altitudes, indicating a probably unaccounted sink. Our results highlight the importance of tropical forests as a means of mitigation to curb global warming.
Besides the well-known role of tropical forests for CO2 capture, their soils can also consume...
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