Text by Lauri Laanisto
Last year we had Peter Harley from Atmospheric Chemistry Division of NCAR doing his sabbatical in our lab. In addition to teaching, organizing seminars and helping out with manuscripts, he continued with his research as well. And he has been doing rather the same things in Colorado that we have been doing here. Though he has been doing it for a longer period (even though he started out not as plant physiologist or atmospheric chemist – he did his BSc in history!).
Full citation: Seco, R., Karl, T., Guenther, A., Hosman, K. P., Pallardy, S. G., Gu, L., Geron, C., Harley, P. & Kim, S. (2015). Ecosystem‐scale volatile organic compound fluxes during an extreme drought in a broadleaf temperate forest of the Missouri Ozarks (central USA). Global change biology, 21(10), 3657-3674. (link to full text)
Considerable amounts and varieties of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) are exchanged between vegetation and the surrounding air. These BVOCs play key ecological and atmospheric roles that must be adequately represented for accurately modeling the coupled biosphere–atmosphere–climate earth system. One key uncertainty in existing models is the response of BVOC fluxes to an important global change process: drought. We describe the diurnal and seasonal variation in isoprene, monoterpene, and methanol fluxes from a temperate forest ecosystem before, during, and after an extreme 2012 drought event in the Ozark region of the central USA. BVOC fluxes were dominated by isoprene, which attained high emission rates of up to 35.4 mg m−2 h−1 at midday. Methanol fluxes were characterized by net deposition in the morning, changing to a net emission flux through the rest of the daylight hours. Net flux of CO2 reached its seasonal maximum approximately a month earlier than isoprenoid fluxes, which highlights the differential response of photosynthesis and isoprenoid emissions to progressing drought conditions. Nevertheless, both processes were strongly suppressed under extreme drought, although isoprene fluxes remained relatively high compared to reported fluxes from other ecosystems. Methanol exchange was less affected by drought throughout the season, confirming the complex processes driving biogenic methanol fluxes. The fraction of daytime (7–17 h) assimilated carbon released back to the atmosphere combining the three BVOCs measured was 2% of gross primary productivity (GPP) and 4.9% of net ecosystem exchange (NEE) on average for our whole measurement campaign, while exceeding 5% of GPP and 10% of NEE just before the strongest drought phase. The meganv2.1 model correctly predicted diurnal variations in fluxes driven mainly by light and temperature, although further research is needed to address model BVOC fluxes during drought events.