Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Soil Following Wetting Events
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Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Soil Following Wetting Events
  • Published Date:

    2018

  • Source:
    JGR Biogeosciences 123(6):1988-2001, 2018
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  • Description:
    Dynamics of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions following the wetting of dry soil have been widely studied in field and laboratory settings. Nonmethane volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also emitted from soil following a rain event and are evident from the characteristic smell of wet soil. Few studies have documented VOC emissions before and after soil rewetting. Soil emissions were studied using a dynamic flux chamber system purged with VOC‐free air, with identification and quantification of emissions performed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. All soils exhibited a rewetting‐induced pulse of VOC emissions, with VOC emissions 14 times higher (on average) in the few hours after rewetting compared to moist soils 2 days after rewetting. This VOC rewetting pulse mirrored the CO2 rewetting pulse (the so‐called “Birch Effect”) but was shorter in duration. Average VOC emissions were 5.0 ± 2.0% of CO2 emissions (molar C equivalent) and increased with increasing soil organic matter content (ρ = 0.40, ρ = 0.99 with one soil excluded). The amounts and types of VOCs varied with time since rewetting and across the five studied soil types, though acetone and small hydrocarbons were the dominant compounds emitted from all soils. Some of the VOCs emitted are likely important mediators of microbial activities and relevant to atmospheric chemical dynamics. Soil VOC emissions, similar to CO2 emissions, are strongly affected by rewetting events, and it is important to consider these rewetting dynamics when modeling soil and ecosystem VOC emissions and understand their relevance to terrestrial ecosystem functioning and atmospheric processes.
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