Long-term elevation of temperature affects organic N turnover and associated N2O emissions in a permanent grassland soil
- 1Teagasc Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Co. Wexford, Ireland
- 2Institute for Plant Ecology, JLU Giessen, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26–32, 35390 Giessen, Germany
- 3Department of Soil and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University, 7647 Lincoln, New Zealand
- 4Department of Earth Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
- 5School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Abstract. Over the last century an increase in mean soil surface temperature has been observed, and it is predicted to increase further in the future. In order to evaluate the legacy effects of increased temperature on both nitrogen (N) transformation rates in the soil and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, an incubation experiment and modelling approaches were combined. Based on previous observations that gross N transformations in soils are affected by long-term elevated-temperature treatments we hypothesized that any associated effects on gaseous N emissions (e.g. N2O) can be confirmed by a change in the relative emission rates from various pathways. Soils were taken from a long-term in situ warming experiment on temperate permanent grassland. In this experiment the soil temperature was elevated by 0 (control), 1, 2 or 3 °C (four replicates per treatment) using IR (infrared) lamps over a period of 6 years. The soil was subsequently incubated under common conditions (20 °C and 50 % humidity) and labelled as NO315NH4 Gly, 15NO3NH4 Gly or NO3NH4 15N-Gly. Soil extractions and N2O emissions were analysed using a 15N tracing model and source-partitioning model. Both total inorganic N (NO3− + NH4+) and NO3− contents were higher in soil subjected to the +2 and +3 °C temperature elevations (pre- and post-incubation). Analyses of N transformations using a 15N tracing model showed that, following incubation, gross organic (but not inorganic) N transformation rates decreased in response to the prior soil warming treatment. This was also reflected in reduced N2O emissions associated with organic N oxidation and denitrification. Furthermore, a newly developed source-partitioning model showed the importance of oxidation of organic N as a source of N2O. In conclusion, long-term soil warming can cause a legacy effect which diminishes organic N turnover and the release of N2O from organic N and denitrification.