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Estimation of Soil Respiration: Improved Techniques for Measurement of Soil Gas
Spring Runoff Conference
  • Bruce Bugbee
ECC 307/309
Event Website
Start Date
1-4-2008 11:15 AM
End Date
1-4-2008 11:30 AM
Respiration can be measured either as an increase in CO2 or as a decrease in O2. Because CO2 can be accurately measured by infrared absorption, CO2 has been widely used for measurements of soil respiration. However, CO2 is 30 times more soluble in water than O2 so the sensitivity of gas phase CO2 to temperature is 30 times greater than for O2. This means that measured fluxes of CO2 from soils can be the result of non-metabolic changes in CO2 in the gas phase of soil. These considerations are particularly significant when using the gradient flux method of measuring soil respiration because continuous measurement of either CO2 or O2 in soil gas is required. We calculated the effects of temperature, barometric pressure, pH, and humidity on CO2 and O2 concentrations in soil gas. The effect of temperature on gaseous CO2 is complex at higher pH values because CO2 gas is also in equilibrium with bicarbonate in the soil solution. At 25 °C and 0.1 % CO2 (1000 ppm), our calculations indicate that CO2 should increase by 0.0015 % CO2 per °C (15 ppm per °C), and the effect of temperature on O2 is negligible. Measurements in autoclaved sand (using an infrared sensor for CO2 and galvanic-cell O2 sensors that can resolve 0.001 % O2 (10 ppm)) confirmed these results. The increased sensitivity of infra-red measurement of CO2 is largely offset by the increased temperature correction for non-metabolic effects of CO2. Measurement of O2 should be used to supplement CO2-based methods of soil respiration.
Citation Information
Bruce Bugbee. "Estimation of Soil Respiration: Improved Techniques for Measurement of Soil Gas" (2008)
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