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Article contents

The Temporal Distribution of ‘Bomb’ 14C in a Forest Soil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

D D Harkness
Affiliation:
NERC Radiocarbon Laboratory, Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre, East Kilbride, Scotland
A F Harrison
Affiliation:
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, England
P J Bacon
Affiliation:
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, England
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Abstract

Patterns of 14C enrichment in the superficial plant debris and mineral soil horizons of an established woodland have been monitored at regular intervals during the past 15 years. These data are compared with a model evaluation of carbon turnover based on the recorded changes in atmospheric 14C concentration since AD 1900.

Leaf litter and decomposing plant debris are characterized by steady-state turnover values of ca 2 and ca 8 years, respectively. A two-component system of ‘fast’ (≤20 yr) and ‘slow’ (ca 350 yr) cycling carbon is indicated for the surface (0–5cm) soil humus; below 10cm, the “fast’ component is rare (<5%).

Selective microbal humification of leaf litter, branch, and root debris is proposed to explain a delay of several years in the peak transfer of ‘bomb’ 14C to the soil carbon pool.

Type
III. The Carbon Cycle
Copyright
Copyright © The American Journal of Science 

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