Our objective was to determine potential impacts of changes in rainfall amount and distribution on soil CH4 oxidation in a temperate forest ecosystem. We constructed a roof below the canopy of a 65-year-old Norway spruce forest (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and simulated two climate change scenarios: (1) an extensively prolonged summer drought of 172 days followed by a rewetting period of 19 days in 1993 and (2) a less intensive summer drought of 108 days followed by a rewetting period of 33 days in 1994. CH4 oxidation, soil matric potential, and soil temperature were measured hourly to daily over a 2-year period. The results showed that annual CH4 oxidation in the drought experiment increased by 102% for the climate change scenario 1 and by 41% for the climate change scenario 2, compared to those of the ambient plot (1.33 kg CH4 ha−1 in 1993 and 1.65 kg CH4 ha−1 in 1994). We tested the relationships between CH4 oxidation rates, water-filled pore space (WFPS), soil matric potential, gas diffusivity, and soil temperature. Temporal variability in the CH4 oxidation rates corresponded most closely to soil matric potential. Employing soil matric potential and soil temperature, we developed a nonlinear model for estimating CH4 oxidation rates. Modeled results were in strong agreement with the measured CH4 oxidation for the ambient (r2 = 0.80) and drought plots (r2 = 0.89) over two experimental years, suggesting that soil matric potential is a highly reliable parameter for modeling CH4 oxidation rate.
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