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Boreal Forest Soil Is A Significant And Diverse Source Of Volatile Organic Compounds

Mari Mäki, Hermanni Aaltonen, Jussi Heinonsalo, Heidi Hellén, Jukka Pumpanen, Jaana Bäck

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Abstract. Vegetation emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are intensively studied world-wide because oxidation products of VOCs contribute to atmospheric processes, but the quantities by which different species of VOCs are produced by soil, or how effectively belowground VOCs are released into the atmosphere from soil remains largely unknown. This is the first published study that measures belowground VOC concentrations at different depths in a podzol combined with simultaneous soil surface flux measurements in a boreal coniferous forest. More than 50 VOCs, dominated by monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, were detected in the air space in the soil during the two measurement campaigns. Organic forest soil was a significant monoterpene source as it contained fresh isoprenoid-rich litter, and the concentrations of monoterpenes were comparable to the VOC concentrations in the air above the coniferous forest. Belowground monoterpene concentrations were largely decoupled from forest floor monoterpene fluxes; thus, it seems that production processes and storages of VOCs partly differ from those VOCs that are simultaneously emitted from the soil surface. Relatively high isoprenoid concentrations were measured under snow cover, which indicates that snow and ice cover hinders gas diffusion and causes belowground accumulation of VOCs when the activity of vegetation is very low.