Nitrous oxide and methane fluxes of a pristine slope mire in the German National Park Harz Mountains

Abstract

Pristine peatlands covered by Histosols (bogs and fens) with high water table and a restricted oxygen (O2) availability are known to have low emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) but may be a significant source for atmospheric methane (CH4) which are both important greenhouse gases. For the first time N2O and CH4 fluxes of a pristine slope mire in the German Harz Mountains have been monitored. Previously reported peatlands are characterised by anaerobic conditions due to high water table levels. Slope mires monitored here receive O2 through slope water inflow. Gas fluxes have been monitored deploying closed chamber method on a central non-forested area and a forested area at the periphery of the slope mire. By means of groundwater piezometers water table levels, ammonium and nitrate contents as well as hydro-chemical variables like oxygen content and redox potential of the mire pore water have been concurrently measured with trace gas fluxes at both monitoring sites of the slope mire. The slope mire took up small amounts of atmospheric methane at a rate of −0.02 ± 0.01 kg C ha−1 year−1 revealing no significant difference between the forested and non-forested site. Higher uptake rates were observed during low water table level. In contrast to pristine peatlands influx of oxygen containing pore water into slope mire does limit reduction processes and resultant CH4 emission. N2O fluxes of the forested and non-forested sites of the slope mire did not differ and amounted to 0.25 ± 0.44 kg N ha−1 year−1. Higher emissions were observed at low water table levels and during thawing periods. In spite of favourable conditions N2O fluxes of the slope mire have been comparable to those of pristine peatlands.

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-007-9493-0

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Cite this paper

@article{Tauchnitz2007NitrousOA, title={Nitrous oxide and methane fluxes of a pristine slope mire in the German National Park Harz Mountains}, author={Nadine Tauchnitz and Rainer Brumme and S. Bernsdorf and Ralph Meissner}, journal={Plant and Soil}, year={2007}, volume={303}, pages={131-138} }