CO2 Flux From Antarctic Dry Valley Soils: Determining the Source and Environmental Controls

Thursday, 18 December 2014
David A Risk1, Chris M Macintyre1, Fiona Shanhun2, Peter C Almond2, Charles Lee3 and Craig Cary3, (1)St. Francis Xavier University, Earth Sciences, Antigonish, NS, Canada, (2)Lincoln University, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln, New Zealand, (3)University of Waikato, International Centre for Terrestrial Antarctic Research, Hamilton, New Zealand
Soils within the McMurdo Dry Valleys are known to respire carbon dioxide (CO2), but considerable debate surrounds the contributing sources and mechanisms that drive temporal variability. While some of the CO2 is of biological origin, other known contributors to variability include geochemical sources within, or beneath, the soil column. The relative contribution from each of these sources will depend on seasonal and environmental drivers such as temperature and wind that exert influence on temporal dynamics. To supplement a long term CO2­ surface flux monitoring station that has now recorded fluxes over three full annual cycles, in January 2014 an automated flux and depth concentration monitoring system was installed in the Spaulding Pond area of Taylor Valley, along with standard meteorological sensors, to assist in defining source contributions through time. During two weeks of data we observed marked diel variability in CO2 concentrations within the profile (~100 ppm CO2 above or below atmospheric), and of CO2 moving across the soil surface. The pattern at many depths suggested an alternating diel-scale transition from source to sink that seemed clearly correlated with temperature-driven changes in the solubility of CO2 in water films. This CO2 solution storage flux was very highly coupled to soil temperature. A small depth source of unknown origin also appeared to be present. A controlled laboratory soil experiment was conducted to confirm the magnitude of fluxes into and out of soil water films, and confirmed the field results and temperature dependence. Ultimately, this solution storage flux needs to be well understood if the small biological fluxes from these soils are to be properly quantified and monitored for change. Here, we present results from the 2013/2014 field season and these supplementary experiments, placed in the context of 3 year long term continuous measurement of soil CO2 flux within the Dry Valleys.