Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 9, 2459-2483, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Reviews and syntheses
09 Jul 2012
Effects of soil rewetting and thawing on soil gas fluxes: a review of current literature and suggestions for future research
D.-G. Kim1, R. Vargas2,3, B. Bond-Lamberty4, and M. R. Turetsky5 1Landcare Research, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
2Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), Ensenada, BC, Mexico
3Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Delaware Environmental Institute, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717, USA
4Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland – College Park, College Park, MD 20740, USA
5Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Abstract. The rewetting of dry soils and the thawing of frozen soils are short-term, transitional phenomena in terms of hydrology and the thermodynamics of soil systems. The impact of these short-term phenomena on larger scale ecosystem fluxes is increasingly recognized, and a growing number of studies show that these events affect fluxes of soil gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), ammonia (NH3) and nitric oxide (NO). Global climate models predict that future climatic change is likely to alter the frequency and intensity of drying-rewetting events and thawing of frozen soils. These future scenarios highlight the importance of understanding how rewetting and thawing will influence dynamics of these soil gases. This study summarizes findings using a new database containing 338 studies conducted from 1956 to 2011, and highlights open research questions. The database revealed conflicting results following rewetting and thawing in various terrestrial ecosystems and among soil gases, ranging from large increases in fluxes to non-significant changes. Studies reporting lower gas fluxes before rewetting tended to find higher post-rewetting fluxes for CO2, N2O and NO; in addition, increases in N2O flux following thawing were greater in warmer climate regions. We discuss possible mechanisms and controls that regulate flux responses, and recommend that a high temporal resolution of flux measurements is critical to capture rapid changes in gas fluxes after these soil perturbations. Finally, we propose that future studies should investigate the interactions between biological (i.e., microbial community and gas production) and physical (i.e., porosity, diffusivity, dissolution) changes in soil gas fluxes, apply techniques to capture rapid changes (i.e., automated measurements), and explore synergistic experimental and modelling approaches.

Citation: Kim, D.-G., Vargas, R., Bond-Lamberty, B., and Turetsky, M. R.: Effects of soil rewetting and thawing on soil gas fluxes: a review of current literature and suggestions for future research, Biogeosciences, 9, 2459-2483, doi:10.5194/bg-9-2459-2012, 2012.
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