Get access

Response of soil surface CO2 flux in a boreal forest to ecosystem warming


Dustin R. Bronson, tel. +1 608 262 6369, fax +1 608 262 9922, e-mail:


Soil surface carbon dioxide (CO2) flux (RS) was measured for 2 years at the Boreal Soil and Air Warming Experiment site near Thompson, MB, Canada. The experimental design was a complete random block design that consisted of four replicate blocks, with each block containing a 15 m × 15 m control and heated plot. Black spruce [Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP] was the overstory species and Epilobium angustifolium was the dominant understory. Soil temperature was maintained (∼5 °C) above the control soil temperature using electric cables inside water filled polyethylene tubing for each heated plot. Air inside a 7.3-m-diameter chamber, centered in the soil warming plot, contained approximately nine black spruce trees was heated ∼5 °C above control ambient air temperature allowing for the testing of soil-only warming and soil+air warming. Soil surface CO2 flux (RS) was positively correlated (P < 0.0001) to soil temperature at 10 cm depth. Soil surface CO2 flux (RS) was 24% greater in the soil-only warming than the control in 2004, but was only 11% greater in 2005, while RS in the soil+air warming treatments was 31% less than the control in 2004 and 23% less in 2005. Live fine root mass (< 2 mm diameter) was less in the heated than control treatments in 2004 and statistically less (P < 0.01) in 2005. Similar root mass between the two heated treatments suggests that different heating methods (soil-only vs. soil+air warming) can affect the rate of decomposition.