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Greenhouse gas emissions after a prescribed fire in white birch-dwarf bamboo stands in northern Japan, focusing on the role of charcoal

Kim, Yong Suk, Makoto, Kobayashi, Takakai, Fumiaki, Shibata, Hideaki, Satomura, Takami, Takagi, Kentaro, Hatano, Ryusuke, Koike, Takayoshi
European journal of forest research 2011 v.130 no.6 pp. 1031-1044
Betula, ammonium nitrogen, bamboos, carbon, carbon dioxide, charcoal, forest ecosystems, forest fires, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, growing season, methane, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, prescribed burning, soil temperature, temperate forests, Japan
Forest fires affect both carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling in forest ecosystems, and thereby influence the soil–atmosphere exchange of major greenhouse gases (GHGs): carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). To determine changes in the soil GHG fluxes following a forest fire, we arranged a low-intensity surface fire in a white birch forest in northern Japan. We established three treatments, having four replications each: a control plot (CON), a burned plot (BURN), and a plot burned with removal of the resulting charcoal (BURN-CHA). Soil GHG fluxes and various properties of the soil were determined on four or five occasions during a period that spanned two growing seasons. We observed increased concentrations of ammonium-N (NH4-N) in BURN and BURN-CHA after the fire, while nitrate–N (NO3-N) concentration was only increased in BURN-CHA after the fire. The soil CO2 flux was significantly higher in CON than in BURN or BURN-CHA, but there was no difference in soil CH4 uptake between the three treatments. Moreover, the N2O flux from BURN-CHA soil was slightly greater than in CON or BURN. In BURN-CHA, the soil N2O flux peaked in August, but there was no peak in BURN. We found temporal correlations between soil GHG fluxes and soil variables, e.g. soil temperature or NO3-N. Our results suggest that environmental changes following fire, including the increased availability of N and the disappearance of the litter layer, have the potential to change soil GHG fluxes. Fire-produced charcoal could be significant in reducing soil N2O flux in temperate forests.