Monitoring Soil Flux in the Winter

Introduction

Autumn weather is in full force in Nova Scotia, and when you step outside in the morning you know winter is just around the corner by the chill in the air. For many, Autumn means the end of field season and the beginning of data analysis, writing and classes. But for Dr. Yongwon Kim, it also means the beginning of a new over-winter field season measuring soil respiration with the Eosense eosFD Soil CO2 Flux Sensor in Alaska.

Monitoring soil flux in Alaska

Dr. Kim and his collaborators are interested in understanding the controls on soil respiration in Arctic ecosystems to understand how these controls might affect the long term carbon balance of Arctic soils, especially considering global warming, which is projected to affect Arctic regions most.

Kim et al. recently published a manuscript in Science of the Total Environment examining soil fluxes in areas dominated by different types of Arctic plants (Tussock, Lichen and Sphagnum – see below) on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.

Four types of dominant plant species monitored by Kim et al. (a) Intact sphagnum; (b) Infected sphagnum; (c) Lichen, and; (d) Tussock. Modified from the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Presentation "Continuous monitoring of soil gas efflux with Forced Diffusion (FD) chamber technique in a tundra ecosystem, Alaska"

Four types of dominant pant species monitored by Kim et al. (a) Intact sphagnum; (b) Infected sphagnum; (c) Lichen, and; (d) Tussock. Modified from the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Presentation “Continuous monitoring of soil gas efflux with Forced Diffusion (FD) chamber technique in a tundra ecosystem, Alaska”

Dr. Kim and his team found that temperature was a significant driver for the variability in CO2 flux at all of the sites, and also that there was a strong variability in the response to temperature depending on the dominant type of vegetation.

Temperature responses of the CO2 flux from the four dominant vegetation types. Modified from the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Presentation "Continuous monitoring of soil gas efflux with Forced Diffusion (FD) chamber technique in a tundra ecosystem, Alaska"

Temperature responses of the CO2 flux from the four dominant vegetation types.
Modified from the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Presentation “Continuous monitoring of soil gas efflux with Forced Diffusion (FD) chamber technique in a tundra ecosystem, Alaska”

The authors conclude that annual CO2 efflux-measurements using eosFD chamber networks would be an effective means for quantifying growing and non-growing season soil carbon budgets, and that the data would be further enhanced by optimal pairing with time-lapse imagery for tracking local and regional changes in environment and climate.

Moving into Winter

Snow has started to fall in some parts of Alaska already and it’s nearly the beginning of the over-winter monitoring season for Dr. Kim and his team. The eosFD Soil CO2 Flux Sensors that Dr. Kim is using in his research have been monitoring soil flux continuously throughout the year using a small solar panel and battery (learn more about powering the eosFD in this application note) and will continue into the winter months where the low power draw of the sensors will allow them to survive in the dark Alaskan winter. Stayed tuned for Dr. Kim’s next eosFD publication and in the meantime grab a hot beverage and enjoy reading “Continuous measurement of soil carbon efflux with Forced Diffusion (FD) chambers in a tundra ecosystem of Alaska“.