, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 271-276

The CLIMEX soil-heating experiment: soil response after 2 years of treatment

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 Most model predictions concerning the response of boreal forest ecosystems to climate change are inferred from small-scale experiments on artificial, simplified systems. Whole-ecosystem experiments designed to validate these models are scarce. We experimentally manipulated a small forested catchment in southern Norway by increasing soil temperature (+3  °C in summer to +5  °C in winter) using heating cables installed at 1 cm depth in the litter layer. Especially nitrification in the 0 to 10-cm soil layer increased as a result of the climate manipulation. Betula litter, produced after exposing trees for 2 years to ambient and elevated CO2 in greenhouses, was incubated for 1 year in the manipulated catchment. Exposure to elevated CO2 did not affect the C/N ratio or decomposition of the Betula litter, but lignin content decreased by 10%. We found no effect of elevated temperature on litter decomposition, probably due to desiccation of the litter. The heating cables caused a permanent increase in soil temperature in this soil layer, but when soils were dry, the temperature difference between control and heated plots decreased with increasing distance from the cables. When soils were wet, no gradients in temperature increase occurred.

Received: 25 November 1997