Biogeosciences, 9, 2033-2044, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
07 Jun 2012
Snowpack concentrations and estimated fluxes of volatile organic compounds in a boreal forest
H. Aaltonen1,2, J. Pumpanen1, H. Hakola2, T. Vesala3, S. Rasmus4, and J. Bäck1,3 1Department of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 27, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
2Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Physics, P.O. Box 48, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box 35, 40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Abstract. Soil provides an important source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to atmosphere, but in boreal forests these fluxes and their seasonal variations have not been characterized in detail. Especially wintertime fluxes are almost completely unstudied. In this study, we measured the VOC concentrations inside the snowpack in a boreal Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest in southern Finland, using adsorbent tubes and air samplers installed permanently in the snow profile. Based on the VOC concentrations at three heights inside the snowpack, we estimated the fluxes of these gases. We measured 20 VOCs from the snowpack, monoterpenes being the most abundant group with concentrations varying from 0.11 to 16 μg m−3. Sesquiterpenes and oxygen-containing monoterpenes were also detected. Inside the pristine snowpack, the concentrations of terpenoids decreased from soil surface towards the surface of the snow, suggesting soil as the source for terpenoids. Forest damages (i.e. broken treetops and branches, fallen trees) resulting from heavy snow loading during the measurement period increased the terpenoid concentrations dramatically, especially in the upper part of the snowpack. The results show that soil processes are active and efficient VOC sources also during winter, and that natural or human disturbance can increase forest floor VOC concentrations substantially. Our results stress the importance of soil as a source of VOCs during the season when other biological sources, such as plants, have lower activity.

Citation: Aaltonen, H., Pumpanen, J., Hakola, H., Vesala, T., Rasmus, S., and Bäck, J.: Snowpack concentrations and estimated fluxes of volatile organic compounds in a boreal forest, Biogeosciences, 9, 2033-2044,, 2012.
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