Rainfall variability drives interannual variation in N2O emissions from a humid, subtropical pasture

Rowlings, D.W., Grace, P.R., Scheer, C., & Liu, S. (2015) Rainfall variability drives interannual variation in N2O emissions from a humid, subtropical pasture. Science of the Total Environment, 512-513, pp. 8-18.

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Variations in interannual rainfall totals can lead to large uncertainties in annual N2O emission budget estimates from short term field studies. The interannual variation in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from a subtropical pasture in Queensland, Australia, was examined using continuous measurements of automated chambers over 2 consecutive years. Nitrous oxide emissions were highest during the summer months and were highly episodic, related more to the size and distribution of rain events than soil water content. Over 48% of the total N2O emitted was lost in just 16% of measurement days.

Interannual variation in annual N2O estimates was high, with cumulative emissions increasing with decreasing rainfall. Cumulative emissions averaged 1826.7 ± 199.9 g N2O-N ha−1 yr−1 over the two year period, though emissions from 2008 (2148 ± 273 g N2O-N ha−1 yr−1) were 42% higher than 2007 (1504 ± 126 g N2O-N ha−1 yr−1). This increase in annual emissions coincided with almost half of the summer precipitation from 2007 to 2008. Emissions dynamics were chiefly driven by the distribution and size of rain events which varied on a seasonal and annual basis.

Sampling frequency effects on cumulative N2O flux estimation were assessed using a jackknife technique to inform future manual sampling campaigns. Test subsets of the daily measured data were generated for the pasture and two adjacent land-uses (rainforest and lychee orchard) by selecting measured flux values at regular time intervals ranging from 1 to 30 days. Errors associated with weekly sampling were up to 34% of the sub-daily mean and were highly biased towards overestimation if strategically sampled following rain events. Sampling time of day also played a critical role. Morning sampling best represented the 24 hour mean in the pasture, whereas sampling at noon proved the most accurate in the shaded rainforest and lychee orchard.

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6 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 86434
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: N2O, Subtropical/tropical, Pasture, Interannual variability, Rainfall variability, N2O sampling frequency
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.011
ISSN: 0048-9697
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > Schools > School of Mathematical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Deposited On: 06 Aug 2015 04:49
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 02:08

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