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Seasonal and Diurnal Variations in Atmospheric and Soil Air 14CO2 in a Boreal Scots Pine Forest

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 November 2017

V Palonen*
Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland Radiocarbon Analytics Finland (RACAF)
J Pumpanen
Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland
L Kulmala
Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
I Levin
Institut für Umweltphysik, Heidelberg University, INF 229, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
J Heinonsalo
Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
T Vesala
Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
*Corresponding author. Email:


We present a radiocarbon (14C) dataset of tropospheric air CO2, forest soil air CO2, and soil CO2 emissions over the course of one growing season in a Scots pine forest in southern Finland. The CO2 collection for 14C accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) analysis was done with a portable, suitcase-sized system, using molecular sieve cartridges to selectively trap CO2. The piloting measurements aimed to quantify the spatial, seasonal and diurnal changes in the 14C content of CO2 in a northern forest site. The atmospheric samples collected above the canopy showed a large seasonal variation and an 11‰ difference between day and nighttime profiles in August. The higher Δ14C values during night are partly explained by a higher contribution of 14C-elevated soil CO2, accumulating in the nocturnal boundary layer when vertical mixing is weak. We observed significant seasonal trends in Δ14C-CO2 at different soil depths that reflected changes in the shares of autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration. Also the observed diurnal variation in the Δ14C values in soil CO2 highlighted the changes in the origin of CO2, with root activity decreasing more for the night than decomposition.

Research Article
© 2017 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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