[Aaltonen2012] "Exchange of volatile organic compounds in the boreal forest floor",
: Helsingin yliopisto, 2012.
Terrestrial ecosystems, mainly plants, emit large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. In addition to plants, VOCs also have less-known sources, such as soil. VOCs are a very diverse group of reactive compounds, including terpenoids, alcohols, aldehydes and ketones. Due to their high reactivity, VOCs take part in chemical reactions in the atmosphere and thus also affect Earth s radiation balance. In this study, chamber and snow gradient techniques for measuring boreal soil and forest floor VOC fluxes were developed. Spatial and temporal variability in fluxes was studied with year-round measurements in the field and the sources of boreal soil VOCs in the laboratory with fungal isolates. Determination of the compounds was performed mass spectrometrically. This study reveals that VOCs from soil are emitted by living roots, above- and belowground litter and microbes. The strongest source appears to be litter, in which both plant residuals and decomposers play a role in the emissions. Temperature and moisture are the most critical physical factors driving VOC fluxes. Since the environment in boreal forests undergoes strong seasonal changes, the VOC flux strength of the forest floor varies markedly during the year, being highest in spring and autumn. The high spatial heterogeneity of the forest floor was also clearly visible in VOC fluxes. The fluxes of trace gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) from soil, which are also related to the soil biological activity and physical conditions, did not correlate with the VOC fluxes. Our results show that emissions of VOCs from the boreal forest floor accounts for as much as several tens of percent, depending on the season, of the total forest ecosystem VOC emissions. This can be utilized in air chemistry models, which are almost entirely lacking the below-canopy compartment.