Controlling factors of biosphere-atmosphere ammonia exchange at a semi-natural peatland site

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Undine Richter1, Christian Brummer1, Jeremy J. Smith1, Jean-Pierre Delorme1 and Werner Leo Kutsch2, (1)Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Braunschweig, Germany, (2)ICOS Headoffice, Helsinki, Finland
Recent advancements in laser spectrometry offer new opportunities to investigate net biosphere-atmosphere exchange of ammonia. During a three month field campaign from February to May 2014, we tested the performance of a quantum cascade laser within an eddy-covariance setup. The laser was operated at a semi-natural peatland site that is surrounded by highly fertilized agricultural land and intensive livestock production (~1 km distance). Ammonia concentrations were highly variable between 2 and almost 100 ppb with an average value of 15 ppb. Different concentration patterns could be identified. The variability was closely linked to the timing of management practices and the prevailing local climate, particularly wind direction, temperature and surface wetness with the latter indicating higher non-stomatal uptake under wet conditions leading to decreased concentrations. Average ammonia fluxes were around -15 ng N m-2 s-1 at the beginning of the campaign in February and shifted towards a neutral average exchange regime of -1 to 0 ng N m-2 s-1 in April and May. Intriguingly, during the time of decreasing ammonia uptake, concentrations were considerably rising, which clearly indicated N saturation in the predominant vegetation such as bog heather, purple moor-grass, and cotton grass. The cumulative net uptake for the period of investigation was ~300 g N ha-1. This stresses the importance of a thorough method inter-comparison, e.g. with denuder systems in combination with dry deposition modeling. As previous results from the latter methods showed an annual uptake of ~9 kg N ha-1 for the same site, the implementation of adequate ammonia compensation point parameterizations become crucial in surface-atmosphere exchange schemes for bog vegetation. Through their high temporal resolution, robustness and continuous measurement mode, quantum cascade lasers will help assessing the effects of atmospheric N loads to vulnerable N-limited ecosystems such as peatlands.