Liming practice in temperate forest ecosystems and the effects on CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes

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Abstract

Abstract. The effect of superficial liming of acidic forest soils on CO2 and N2O emissions and CH4 uptake was investigated with closed chambers in two deciduous and two spruce forests, by weekly to biweekly measurements over at least one year. The flux rates of untreated areas varied between 1.94 and 4.38 t CO2-C/ha per y, 0.28 and 2.15 kg/N2O-N/ha per y and between 0.15 and 1.06 kg CH4-C/ha per y. Liming had no clear effect on CO2 emissions which may change in the long-term with decreasing root turnover and increasing C-mineralization. Apart from one exception, liming resulted in a reduction of N2O emissions by 9 to 62% and in an increase of CH4 uptake by 26 to 580%. The variability in N2O emissions between the forest sites could not be explained. In contrast, the variability of annual CH4 uptake rates could be explained by N content (r2= 0.82), C content (r2= 0.77), bulk density (r2= 60), pore space (r2= 0.59) and pH (r2= 0.40) of mineral soil at a depth of 0 to 10 cm, and by the quantity of material in the organic layer (r2= 0.66). Experiments with undisturbed columns of the same soils showed that between 1 and 73% of the total N2O emissions came from the organic layer. However, atmospheric CH4 was not oxidized in this layer, which represents a diffusion barrier for atmospheric CH4. When this barrier was removed, CH4 uptake by the mineral soil increased by 25 to 171%. These results suggest that liming of acidic forest soils causes a reduction of the greenhouse gases N2O and CH4 in the atmosphere, due to changes in the chemical, biological, and physical condition of the soils.

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