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An incubation study of temperature sensitivity of greenhouse gas fluxes in three land-cover types near Sydney, Australia

Li, Jinquan, Nie, Ming, Pendall, Elise
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.688 pp. 324-332
carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sinks, climate, forest soils, forests, global warming, global warming potential, grasslands, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, laboratory experimentation, land cover, methane, models, nitrogen cycle, nitrous oxide, soil depth, surface temperature, uncertainty, upland soils, water holding capacity, wetland soils, wetlands, Australia
Greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes play crucial roles in regulating the Earth surface temperature. However, our understanding of the effect of land-cover and soil depth on the potential GHG fluxes and their temperature sensitivities (Q10) is limited, which consequently increases the uncertainty to predict GHG exchange between soils and the atmosphere. In the present study, we sampled soils with contrasting characteristics from three land-cover types (wetland, grassland, and forest) and soil depths (0–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm) from the Cumberland Plain near Sydney, Australia, and incubated at optimal (60%) water holding capacity at three temperatures (15, 25, and 35 °C). Overall, GHG fluxes and Q10 values differed significantly among land-cover types and soil depths. CO2 and N2O emissions were highest in wetland followed by grassland and forest soils, and they decreased with soil depth. In contrast, CH4 uptake was highest in grassland followed by forest and wetland soils, and it increased with soil depth. Combining the three major GHGs, the global warming potential in soil from wetland was higher than that from grassland and forest. Moreover, Q10 values of CO2 and N2O emissions were: wetland > grassland > forest, while Q10 value of CH4 uptake showed the opposite pattern. Q10 values of CO2 and N2O emissions and CH4 uptake all increased with soil depth, demonstrating that subsoil has a higher potential for CO2 and N2O emissions and CH4 uptake in a warming climate. While these experiments were conducted under ideally controlled laboratory conditions, results suggest that the large carbon stocks in wetland soils are vulnerable to loss and thus may amplify climate warming; upland soils are crucial CH4 sinks and thus potentially mitigate climate change. In addition, the greater temperature sensitivities of CO2 and N2O emissions and CH4 uptake in subsoil should be accounted for in carbon and nitrogen cycling models.