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Evolution of carbon fluxes during initial soil formation along the forefield of Damma glacier, Switzerland
Institute of biogeochemistry and pollutant dynamics, ETH Zurich. (Soil Chemistry group)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences.
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2013 (English)In: Biogeochemistry, ISSN 0168-2563, E-ISSN 1573-515X, Vol. 113, no 1-3, 545-561 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Soil carbon (C) fluxes, soil respiration and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) leaching were explored along the young Damma glacier forefield chronosequence (7-128 years) over a three-year period. To gain insight into the sources of soil CO2 effluxes, radiocarbon signatures of respired CO2 were measured and a vegetation-clipping experiment was performed. Our results showed a clear increase in soil CO2 effluxes with increasing site age from 9 +/- A 1 to 160 +/- A 67 g CO2-C m(-2) year(-1), which was linked to soil C accumulation and development of vegetation cover. Seasonal variations of soil respiration were mainly driven by temperature; between 62 and 70 % of annual CO2 effluxes were respired during the 4-month long summer season. Sources of soil CO2 effluxes changed along the glacier forefield. For most recently deglaciated sites, radiocarbon-based age estimates indicated ancient C to be the dominant source of soil-respired CO2. At intermediate site age (58-78 years), the contribution of new plant-fixed C via rhizosphere respiration amounted up to 90 %, while with further soil formation, heterotrophically respired C probably from accumulated 'older' soil organic carbon (SOC) became increasingly important. In comparison with soil respiration, DOC leaching at 10 cm depth was small, but increased similarly from 0.4 +/- A 0.02 to 7.4 +/- A 1.6 g DOC m(-2) year(-1) over the chronosequence. A strong rise of the ratio of SOC to secondary iron and aluminium oxides strongly suggests that increasing DOC leaching with site age results from a faster increase of the DOC source, SOC, than of the DOC sink, reactive mineral surfaces. Overall, C losses from soil by soil respiration and DOC leaching increased from 9 +/- A 1 to 70 +/- A 17 and further to 168 +/- A 68 g C m(-2) year(-1) at the < 10, 58-78, and 110-128 year old sites. By comparison, total ecosystem C stocks increased from 0.2 to 1.1 and to 3.1 kg C m(-2) from the young to intermediate and old sites. Therefore, the ecosystem evolved from a dominance of C accumulation in the initial phase to a high throughput system. We suggest that the relatively strong increase in soil C stocks compared to C fluxes is a characteristic feature of initial soil formation on freshly exposed rocks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2013. Vol. 113, no 1-3, 545-561 p.
Keyword [en]
Glacier forefield; Chronosequence; Soil formation; DOC; Soil respiration; Carbon sources
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86636DOI: 10.1007/s10533-012-9785-1ISI: 000317863300033OAI: diva2:587780
Available from: 2013-01-15 Created: 2013-01-15 Last updated: 2013-07-11Bibliographically approved

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Smittenberg, Rienk H.
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