Using stable isotopes to determine soil carbon input differences under ambient and elevated atmospheric CO2 conditions


Chris van Kessel Department of Soil Science, 51 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N


Quantitative estimates of soil C input under ambient (35 Pa) and elevated (60 Pa) CO2-partial pressure (pCO2) were determined in a Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment. To facilitate 13C-tracing, Trifolium repens L. was grown in a soil with an initial δ13C distinct by at least 5‰ from the δ13C of T. repens grown under ambient or elevated pCO2. A shift in δ13C of the soil organic C was detected after one growing season. Calculated new soil C inputs in soil under ambient and elevated pCO2 were 2 and 3 t ha–1, respectively. Our findings suggest that under elevated CO2 conditions, soil C sequestration may be altered by changes in plant biomass production and quality.