Biogeosciences Editors' Highlights

Dueling Eyes on Ecosystem Metabolism Tell Diverging Stories

Multiple state-of-the-art independent observing systems consistently disagree on magnitudes and patterns of ecosystem metabolism of carbon dioxide, but together can shed new insight.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


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Ecosystem respiration from plants, microorganisms, and animals together makes up one of the largest flows in the global carbon cycle. Researchers have gone to great lengths to develop ways to automate high-frequency measurements of these processes. Yet, two of the more common state-of-the-art techniques, soil chambers and eddy covariance flux towers, disagree on the magnitude and daily to seasonal variation of this term at many sites worldwide.

Renchon et al. [2021] deploy a long time period of automated high-frequency soil chamber measurements near an eddy covariance flux tower in a eucalypt woodland in Australia. The towers reveal large daily and seasonal variation, while the chambers only have large variation at the seasonal scale. While the results would be consistent with aboveground plants driving daily variation in respiration, a closer reveal suggests systematic bias in the flux tower measurements or processing methodology.

Citation: Renchon, A. A., Drake, J. E., Macdonald, C. A., Sihi, D., Hinko‐Najera, N., Tjoelker, M. G., et al. [2021]. Concurrent measurements of soil and ecosystem respiration in a mature eucalypt woodland: Advantages, lessons, and questions. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 126, e2020JG006221. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JG006221

―Ankur Rashmikant Desai, Editor, JGR: Biogeosciences

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