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CO2, CH4 and N2O flux through a Wyoming snowpack and implications for global budgets

Posted date: May 28, 2015
Publication Year: 
1993
Authors: Sommerfeld, R. A.; Mosier, A. R.; Musselman, Robert (Bob) C.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Nature. 361: 140-142.

Abstract

Increasing atmospheric concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases-carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide account for about 70% of anticipated global warming, but the production-consumption budgets are not balanced for any of these gases2. Snow can cover between 44 and 53% of the land area of the Northern Hemisphere3 and may be several metres deep in alpine and sub-alpine regions for more than half the year. Most trace-gas budgets assume that trace-gas exchange stops when soil is snow covered or soil temperatures drop to ~0 °C (refs 4, 5). Thus alpine and sub-alpine soils are generally considered to be net sinks for atmospheric C02. Some reports however, suggest that soil microorganisms beneath the snow continue to respire at temperatures close to 0 °C. Here we present evidence that the soils under alpine and sub-alpine snowpacks emit C02 and N20 and take up atmospheric CH4 throughout the snow-covered period. These fluxes represent an important part of the annual trace-gas budget for these ecosystems.

Citation

Sommerfeld, R. A.; Mosier, A. R.; Musselman, R. C. 1993. CO2, CH4 and N2O flux through a Wyoming snowpack and implications for global budgets. Nature. 361: 140-142.