Short-term flooding increases CH4 and N2O emissions from trees in a riparian forest soil-stem continuum

Thomas Schindler*, Ülo Mander, Katerina Machacova, Mikk Espenberg, Dmitrii Krasnov, Jordi Escuer-Gatius, Gert Veber, Jaan Pärn, Kaido Soosaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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One of the characteristics of global climate change is the increase in extreme climate events, e.g., droughts and floods. Forest adaptation strategies to extreme climate events are the key to predict ecosystem responses to global change. Severe floods alter the hydrological regime of an ecosystem which influences biochemical processes that control greenhouse gas fluxes. We conducted a flooding experiment in a mature grey alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench) forest to understand flux dynamics in the soil-tree-atmosphere continuum related to ecosystem N2O and CH4 turn-over. The gas exchange was determined at adjacent soil-tree-pairs: stem fluxes were measured in vertical profiles using manual static chambers and gas chromatography; soil fluxes were measured with automated chambers connected to a gas analyser. The tree stems and soil surface were net sources of N2O and CH4 during the flooding. Contrary to N2O, the increase in CH4 fluxes delayed in response to flooding. Stem N2O fluxes were lower although stem CH4 emissions were significantly higher than from soil after the flooding. Stem fluxes decreased with stem height. Our flooding experiment indicated soil water and nitrogen content as the main controlling factors of stem and soil N2O fluxes. The stems contributed up to 88% of CH4 emissions to the stem-soil continuum during the investigated period but soil N2O fluxes dominated (up to 16 times the stem fluxes) during all periods. Conclusively, stem fluxes of CH4 and N2O are essential elements in forest carbon and nitrogen cycles and must be included in relevant models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3204
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Estonia (SF0180127s08 grant), the Estonian Research Council (IUT2-16, PRG-352, and MOBERC20), the Czech Science Foundation (17-18112Y), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of Czech Republic within the National Sustainability Program I (NPU I), grant number LO1415, the EU through the European Regional Development Fund (ENVIRON and EcolChange Centres of Excellence, Estonia, and MOBTP101 returning researcher grant by the Mobilitas Pluss programme) and the European Social Fund (Doctoral School of Earth Sciences and Ecology).


  • biogeochemistry
  • environmental sciences


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