Isoprene and monoterpene emissions from alder, aspen and spruce short-rotation forest plantations in the United Kingdom

Purser, Gemma; Drewer, Julia; Heal, Mathew R.; Sircus, Robert A.S.; Dunn, Lara K.; Morison, James I.L.. 2021 Isoprene and monoterpene emissions from alder, aspen and spruce short-rotation forest plantations in the United Kingdom. Biogeosciences, 18 (8). 2487-2510.

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An expansion of bioenergy has been proposed to help reduce fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emissions, and short-rotation forestry (SRF) can contribute to this expansion. However, SRF plantations could also be sources of biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions, which can impact atmospheric air quality. In this study, emissions of isoprene and 11 monoterpenes from the branches and forest floor of hybrid aspen, Italian alder and Sitka spruce stands in an SRF field trial in central Scotland were measured during two years (2018–2019) and used to derive emission potentials for different seasons. Sitka spruce was included as a comparison as it is the most extensive plantation species in the UK. Winter and spring emissions of isoprene and monoterpenes were small compared to those in summer. Sitka spruce had a standardised mean emission rate of 15 µgCg−1h−1 for isoprene in the dry and warm summer of 2018 – more than double the emissions in 2019. However, standardised mean isoprene emissions from hybrid aspen were similar across both years, approximately 23 µgCg−1h−1, and standardised mean isoprene emissions from Italian alder were very low. Mean standardised total monoterpene emissions for these species followed a similar pattern of higher standardised emissions in the warmer year: Sitka spruce emitting 4.5 and 2.3 µgCg−1h−1 for 2018 and 2019, aspen emitting 0.3 and 0.09 µgCg−1h−1, and Italian alder emitting 1.5 and 0.2 µgCg−1h−1, respectively. In contrast to these foliage emissions, the forest floor was only a small source of monoterpenes, typically 1 or 2 orders of magnitude lower than foliage emissions on a unit of ground area basis. Estimates of total annual emissions from each plantation type per hectare were derived using the MEGAN 2.1 model. The modelled total BVOC (isoprene and monoterpenes) emissions of SRF hybrid aspen plantations were approximately half those of Sitka spruce for plantations of the same age. Italian alder SRF emissions were 20 times smaller than from Sitka spruce. The expansion of bioenergy plantations to 0.7 Mha has been suggested for the UK to help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The model estimates show that, with such an expansion, total UK BVOC emissions would increase between <1 % and 35 %, depending on the tree species planted. Whereas increases might be small on a national scale, regional increases might have a larger impact on local air quality.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1726-4170
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 26 May 2021 15:54 +0 (UTC)

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