Biogeosciences: Comparison of soil greenhouse gas fluxes from extensive and intensive grazing in a temperate maritime climate

Skiba, U., Jones, S. K., Drewer, J., Helfter, C., Anderson, M., Dinsmore, K., McKenzie, R., Nemitz, E., and Sutton, M. A.: Comparison of soil greenhouse gas fluxes from extensive and intensive grazing in a temperate maritime climate, Biogeosciences, 10, 1231-1241, doi:10.5194/bg-10-1231-2013, 2013.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes from a seminatural, extensively sheep-grazed drained moorland and intensively sheep-grazed fertilised grassland in South East (SE) Scotland were compared over 4 yr (2007–2010). Nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) fluxes were measured by static chambers, respiration from soil plus ground vegetation by a flow-through chamber, and the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of carbon dioxide (CO2) by eddy-covariance. All GHG fluxes displayed high temporal and interannual variability. Temperature, radiation, water table height and precipitation could explain a significant percentage of seasonal and interannual variations. Greenhouse gas fluxes were dominated by the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 at both sites. Net ecosystem exchange of CO2 and respiration was much larger on the productive fertilised grassland (−1567 and 7157 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1, respectively) than on the seminatural moorland (−267 and 2554 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1, respectively). Large ruminant CH4 (147 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1) and soil N2O (384 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1) losses from the grazed grassland counteracted the CO2 uptake by 34%, whereas the small N2O (0.8 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1) and CH4 (7 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1) emissions from the moorland only impacted the NEE flux by 3%. The 4-yr average GHG budget for the grazed grassland was −1034 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1 and −260 g CO2eq m−2 yr−1 for the moorland.

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Biogeosciences (BG) is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of the interactions between the biological, chemical and physical processes in terrestrial or extraterrestrial life with the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The objective of the journal is to cut across the boundaries of established sciences and achieve an interdisciplinary view of these interactions. Experimental, conceptual and modelling approaches are welcome. More at Biogeosciences homepage.


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