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Carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes, composing net ecosystem exchange (NEE), ecosystem respiration (ER), and soil respiration (SR) were measured in a temperate heathland exposed to elevated CO2 by the FACE (free-air carbon enrichment) technique, raising the atmospheric CO2 concentration from c. 380 μmol mol−1 to 510 μmol mol−1. All CO2 fluxes were measured by the static chamber methodology. Although the FACE technique enriches the atmosphere with CO2 to a fixed level, the above ground CO2 concentrations may nevertheless locally vary strongly (from about ambient to 1000 μmol mol−1). Deployment of static chambers to FACE experiments should therefore be performed with great care in order to ensure reproducible conditions with respect to chamber headspace CO2 concentration. We demonstrate that that the fluxes measured by closed chambers relate linearly to the initial headspace CO2 concentration. When changing the initial headspace CO2 concentration from 380 to 510 μmol mol−1 the net CO2 assimilation expressed by NEE increased instantaneously 1.51 times in control plots and 1.71 times in FACE plots. By contrast, ER in control plots decreased, being 0.87 times that measured at the low CO2 concentration, and the flux also decreased in FACE plots, to 0.79 times that at low concentration. Similar SR in control plots was decreased 0.94 times in control plots and 0.88 times in FACE plots. We found that a useful method to achieve stable and reproducible chamber headspace and soil CO2 concentration prior to commencement of flux measurements was to turn off the FACE system at least 10 min in advance. Within 10 min a new equilibrium was established between the soil and atmosphere, apparently due to CO2 degassing from the top soil. The observed increase in SR in response to increased CO2 persisted for up to 18 h during which measurements should be performed. Soil CO2 concentrations were increased by up to 500 μmol mol−1 by the FACE treatment, substantially more than the 130 μmol mol−1 enrichment achieved in the atmosphere suggesting that the increased SR flux was caused by increased belowground respiration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)208-214
StatePublished - 2011
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 5


  • Bio systems, Environment and climate
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ID: 5132249