Decrease in heathland soil labile organic carbon under future atmospheric and climatic conditions

Thaysen, E.M.; Reinsch, S.; Larsen, K.S.; Ambus, P.. 2017 Decrease in heathland soil labile organic carbon under future atmospheric and climatic conditions. Biogeochemistry, 133 (1). 17-36.

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Characterization of the impacts of climate change on terrestrial carbon (C) cycling is important due to possible feedback mechanisms to atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We investigated soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics in the A1 and A2 horizons (~0–5.1 and ~5.1–12.3 cm depth, respectively) of a shrubland grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) after 8 years of exposure to: elevated CO2 (CO2), summer drought (D), warming (T) and all combinations hereof, with TDCO2 simulating environmental conditions for Denmark in 2075. The mean C residence time was highest in the heavy fraction (HF), followed by the occluded light fraction and the free light fraction (fLF), and it increased with soil depth, suggesting that C was stabilized on minerals at depth. A2 horizon SOM was susceptible to climate change whereas A1 horizon SOM was largely unaffected. The A2 horizon fLF and HF organic C stocks decreased by 43 and 23% in response to warming, respectively. Organic nitrogen (N) stocks of the A2 horizon fLF and HF decreased by 50 and 17%, respectively. Drought decreased the A2 horizon fLF N stock by 38%. Elevated CO2 decreased the A2 horizon fLF C stock by 39% and the fLF N stock by 50%. Under TDCO2, A2 horizon fLF C and N stocks decreased by 22 and 40%, respectively. Overall, our results indicate that shrubland SOM will be susceptible to increased turnover and associated net C and N losses in the future.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0168-2563
Additional Keywords: climate change, SOM, density fractionation, C cycling, N cycling, FACE, 13C, 15N, C storage, CLIMAITE
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 03 Mar 2017 10:51 +0 (UTC)

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