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An improved method for measuring soil N₂O fluxes using a quantum cascade laser with a dynamic chamber

Cowan, N. J., Famulari, D., Levy, P. E., Anderson, M., Bell, M. J., Rees, R. M., Reay, D. S., Skiba, U. M.
European journal of soil science 2014 v.65 no.5 pp. 643-652
carbon dioxide, gas chromatography, models, nitrous oxide, regression analysis, soil, uncertainty
A dynamic chamber method was developed to measure fluxes of N₂O from soils with greater accuracy than previously possible, through the use of a quantum cascade laser (QCL). The dynamic method was compared with the conventional static chamber method, where samples are analysed subsequently on a gas chromatograph. Results suggest that the dynamic method is capable of measuring soil N₂O fluxes with an uncertainty of typically less than 1–2 µg N₂O‐N m⁻² hour⁻¹ (0.24–0.48 g N₂O‐N ha⁻¹ day⁻¹), much less than the conventional static chamber method, because of the greater precision and temporal resolution of the QCL. The continuous record of N₂O and CO₂ concentration at 1 Hz during chamber closure provides an insight into the effects that enclosure time and the use of different regression methods may introduce when employed with static chamber systems similar in design. Results suggest that long enclosure times can contribute significantly to uncertainty in chamber flux measurements. Non‐linear models are less influenced by effects of long enclosure time, but even these do not always adequately describe the observed concentrations when enclosure time exceeds 10 minutes, especially with large fluxes.