Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 3
Biogeosciences, 8, 621-635, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-621-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 8, 621-635, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-621-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 08 Mar 2011

Research article | 08 Mar 2011

Direct contribution of nitrogen deposition to nitrous oxide emissions in a temperate beech and spruce forest – a 15N tracer study

N. Eickenscheidt, R. Brumme, and E. Veldkamp N. Eickenscheidt et al.
  • Soil Science of Tropical and Subtropical Ecosystems, Buesgen Institute, University of Goettingen, Buesgenweg 2, 37077 Goettingen, Germany

Abstract. The impact of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition on nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in forest ecosystems is still unclear. Our study assessed the direct contribution of N deposition to N2O emissions in temperate forests exposed to chronic high N depositions using a 15N labelling technique. In a Norway spruce stand (Picea abies) and in a beech stand (Fagus sylvatica) at the Solling, Germany, we used a low concentrated 15N-labelled ammonium-nitrate solution to simulate N deposition. Nitrous oxide fluxes and 15N isotope abundances in N2O were measured using the closed chamber method combined with 15N isotope analyses. Emissions of N2O were higher in the beech stand (2.6 ± 0.6 kg N ha−1 yr−1) than in the spruce stand (0.3 ± 0.1 kg N ha−1 yr−1). We observed a direct effect of N input on 15N-N2O emissions, which lasted for less than three weeks and was mainly caused by denitrification. No further increase in 15N enrichment of N2O occurred during a one-year experiment, which was probably due to immobilisation of deposited N. The annual emission factor for N2O from deposited N was 0.1% for the spruce stand and 0.6% for the beech stand. Standard methods used in the literature applied to the same stands grossly overestimated emission factors with values of up to 25%. Only 6–13% of the total N2O emissions were derived from direct N depositions. Whether the remaining emissions resulted from accumulated anthropogenic N depositions or native soil N, could not be distinguished with the applied methods. The 15N tracer technique is a useful tool, which may improve estimates of the current contribution of N deposition to N2O emissions.

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