PhD Thesis

CO2 and isotope flux measurements above a spruce forest

Johannes Ruppert (01/2002-02/2009)

Support: Thomas Foken

The measurement of the turbulent carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange by the eddy covariance (EC) method has become a fundamental tool for the quantitative determination of the atmospheric CO2 net ecosystem exchange (NEE) and the investigation of the carbon mass balances of ecosystems. Such measurements require a high degree of quality control in order to prevent systematic errors. The determination of the annual sum of NEE and filling of data gaps is complicated by characteristic diurnal and seasonal variation in the governing gross flux components of assimilation, i.e. photosynthetic uptake of CO2, and respiration. In this dissertation, a set of criteria is suggested for the identification of high quality NEE data. They are applied to data obtained above a spruce forest in the Fichtelgebirge Mountains in Germany. The application of the quality criteria resulted in less systematic distribution of data gaps compared to a commonly applied criterion based on the friction velocity u measured above the canopy. The suggested method is therefore able to reduce the risk of double accounting of nighttime respiration fluxes and systematic error in the annual sum of NEE. The isotopic flux partitioning method can be applied to quantify the assimilation and respiration flux components. Especially above forest ecosystems, it requires isotope flux measurements with high analytical precision in order to resolve small gradients in the isotopic signature of the turbulent exchange. A conditional sampling instrument was developed and tested in laboratory and field experiments. By combining the hyperbolic relaxed eddy accumulation method (HREA), whole-air sampling and high precision isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), 13CO2 and CO18O isotopic flux densities (isofluxes) could be measured with an estimated uncertainty of 10-20% during a three day intensive measuring campaign of the field experiment WALDATEM-2003 (Wavelet Detection and Atmospheric Turbulent Exchange Measurements 2003). Thorough quality control was applied at all stages of the experiment, including the data evaluation. The sampling process and the assumption of similarity in the turbulent exchange characteristics of different scalars (scalar similarity) were assessed by simulation of HREA sampling based on high temporal resolution data of the turbulent energy and gas exchange. Above three different vegetation types, distinct diurnal changes of scalar similarity were observed and attributed to events on time scales longer than 60 s, which most likely represent changes in the source/sink strength or convective or advective processes. Poor scalar-scalar correlations indicate the risk of systematic underestimation of fluxes measured by HREA. There is some evidence for good scalar similarity and a generally linear relation between bulk CO2 mixing ratios and its isotopic signatures in the turbulent exchange. However, the slope of that relation was observed to change temporarily so that especially for the EC/flask method temporal and spatial scales represented in flask samples must carefully be considered. HREA isoflux measurements have a footprint similar to the footprint of EC measurements and are therefore able to integrate small-scale heterogeneity in ecosystems. CO2 mixing ratios and δ13C and δ18O isotopic signatures measured in updraft and downdraft whole-air samples allowed determining ecosystem integrated and truly flux weighted isotopic signatures of the atmospheric ecosystem gas exchange and ecosystem isotope discrimination Δe and ΔE on half-hourly timescales. The observed diurnal variability demonstrates the need for their repeated high precision measurement at ecosystem scale for the evaluation of isotopic mass balances. For the isotopic flux partitioning method, additional data on the integrated canopy isotope discrimination Δ'canopy from independent measurements or validated models is indispensable. An observed fast equilibration of isotopic disequilibria D13C and D18O between the assimilation and respiration fluxes may indicate that the successful application of the isotopic flux partitioning method is limited to short periods after significant environmental changes on the scale of few days.


last modified 2009-03-24