Carbon sinks have the ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than what they emit. The terrestrial biome acts as a huge carbon sink, however, this ability is dependent on different environmental factors. This study focused on the effects of soil moisture on net ecosystem exchange (NEE) in the Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory, PA. It was hypothesized that the strength of the carbon sink would grow with wetter soils. Data was collected from the eddy-covariance flux tower, a COSMOS soil moisture probe, automated soil respiration chambers and sap flow probes for May to August between the years 2011-2016. Since temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) also have an effect on carbon fluxes, these variables were isolated to properly study soil moisture and carbon fluxes. Generally, less carbon dioxide was absorbed with increasing soil moisture. Since NEE is a combination of photosynthesis and respiration, the effect of soil moisture was studied separately for each process. The sap flow data showed a decrease in activity with increasing soil moisture, hence photosynthesis was most likely reduced. Additionally, more carbon dioxide was emitted from respiration with increasing soil moisture. These findings could possibly explain why the forest at Shale Hills tends to release more carbon dioxide with increasing soil moisture.
Griffiths, Z.G., Davis, K.J., and He, Y. (2016): Investigating the Effects of Soil Moisture on Net Ecosystem Exchange in Shale Hills. 2016 Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, 12-16 Dec..
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.