Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Supplement 1, pp S426–S431 | Cite as

Six Years of CO2 Flux Measurements for a Moderately Grazed Mixed-Grass Prairie

  • A. B. FrankEmail author


The large area occupied by temperate grassland ecosystems makes it important to determine their strength as a carbon sink. The Bowen ratio/energy balance (BREB) technique was used to determine CO2 fluxes over a moderately grazed mixed-grass prairie at Mandan, North Dakota, USA, over a 6-year period from 1996 to 2001. Above-ground biomass and leaf area index (LAI) were measured about every 21 days throughout the growing period. Root biomass was determined to 1.1 m depth in mid-July each year. Peak above-ground biomass typically occurred between mid-July to early August and ranged from 782 kg/ha in 1998 to 2173 kg/ha in 1999. Maximum LAI ranged from 0.4 in 1998 to 0.9 in 1999. Root biomass ranged from 11.8 Mg/ha in 1997 to 17.4 Mg/ha in 1996. Maximum daily CO2 fluxes generally coincided with periods of maximum LAI and above-ground green biomass. The average time period for CO2 uptake was 5 May to 3 October. Annual CO2 fluxes ranged from a low of 13 g CO2/m2 in 1998 to a high of 247 g CO2/m2 in 2001, nearly a 20-fold difference, and averaged 108 g CO2/m2. The cumulative annual flux over all 6 years was 646 g CO2/m2 or 176 g CO2-C/m2. These results indicate that the strength of the carbon sink for this moderately grazed prairie site is about 30 g CO2-C/m2/yr, which is quite small, but considering that the site was grazed and still remains a sink for carbon, it is significant.


Carbon sequestration Global carbon cycle Carbon budget Bowen ratio Grasslands 


  1. 1.
    Angell, R., Svejcar, T., Bates, J. 2001Carbon dioxide measurements on two sagebrush steppe sites: Bowen ratio and closed chamber comparisonsAgricultural and Forest Meteorology108153161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Batjes, N. H. 1998Mitigation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by increased carbon sequestration in the soilBiology and Fertility of Soils27230235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bremer, D. J., Ham, J. M., Owensby, C. E., Knapp, A. K. 1998Response of soil respiration to clipping and grazing in a tallgrass prairieJournal of Environmental Quality2715391548Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bruce, J. P., Frome, M., Haites, E., Janzen, H., Lal, R., Paustian, K. 1999Carbon sequestration in soilsJournal of Soil and Water Conservation54382389Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cole, V. 1996Agricultural options for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissionsWatson, R. T.Zinyowerea, M. C.Moss, R. H. eds. Climate change 1995. Impacts, adaptations and mitigation of climate change: scientific–technical analysesCambridge University PressCambridge747771Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dixon, R. K., Brown, S., Houghton, R. A., Solomon, A. M., Trexler, M. C., Wisniewski, J. 1994Carbon pools and flux of global forest ecosystemsScience263185190Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dugas, W. A. 1993Micrometeorological and chamber measurements of CO2 flux from bare soilAgricultural and Forest Meteorology67115128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dugas, W. A., Heuer, M. L., Mayeux, H. S. 1999Carbon dioxide fluxes over bermudagrass, native prairie, and sorghumAgricultural and Forest Meteorology93121139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eswaran, H., Van den Berg, E., Reich, P. 1993Organic carbon in soils of the worldSoil Science Society of America Journal57192194Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fan, S., Gloor, M., Mahlman, J., Pacala, S., Sarmiento, J., Takahashi, T., Tans, P. 1998A large terrestrial carbon sink in North America implied by atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide data and modelsScience282442446CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Frank, A. B., Dugas, W. A. 2001Carbon dioxide fluxes over a northern semiarid, mixed-grass prairieAgricultural and Forest Meteorology108317326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Frank, A. B., Sims, P. L., Bradford, J. A., Mielnick, P. C., Dugas, W. A., Mayeux, H. S. 2000Carbon dioxide fluxes over three Great Plains GrasslandsFollett, R. F.Kimble, J. M.Lal, R. eds. The potential of US grazing lands to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effectCRC PressBaco Raton, Florida167188Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Frank, A. B., Liebig, M. A., Hanson, J. D. 2002Soil carbon dioxide fluxes in northern semiarid grasslandsSoil Biology and Biochemistry3412351241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gifford, R. M. 1994The global carbon cycle: A viewpoint on the missing sinkAustralian Journal of Plant Physiology21115Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Houghton, R. A., Hacker, J. L., Lawrence, K. T. 1999The U S carbon budget: contributions from land-use changeScience285574578CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Keeling, C. D., Chin, J. F. S., Whorf, T. P. 1996Increased activity of northern vegetation inferred from atmospheric CO2 measurementsNature382146149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kim, J. S., Verma, B., Clement, R. J. 1992Carbon dioxide budget in a temperate grassland ecosystemJournal of Geophysical Research9760576063Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Levy, E. B., Madden, E. A. 1933The point frame method of pasture analysisNew Zealand Journal Agriculture46267279Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mielnick, P. C., Dugas, W. A. 2000Soil CO2 flux in a tallgrass prairieSoil Biology and Biochemistry32221228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Rastetter, E. B., McKane, R. B., Shaver, G. R., Melillo, J. M. 1992Changes in C storage by terrestrial ecosystems: How C-N interactions restrict responses to CO2 and temperatureWater, Air, and Soil Pollution64327344Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Rogler, G. A., Haas, H. J. 1947Range production as related to soil moisture and precipitation on the Northern Great PlainsAgronomy Journal39378389Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Schimel, D. S. 1995Terrestrial ecosystems and the carbon cycleGlobal Change Biology.17791Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sims, P. L., Singh, J. S. 1978The structure and function of ten western North American grasslands. II. Intraseasonal dynamics in primary producer compartmentsJournal of Ecology66547572Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sims, P. L., Bradford, J. A. 2001Carbon dioxide fluxes in a southern plains prairieAgricultural and Forest Meteorology109117134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sundquist, E. T. 1993The global carbon dioxide budgetScience259934941Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Suyker, A. E., Verma, S. B. 2001Year-round observations of the net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide in a native tallgrass prairieGlobal Change Biology7279289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Webb, E. K., Pearman, G. I., Leuning, R. 1980Correction of flux measurements for density effects due to heat and water vapor transferQuarterly Journal Royal Meteorological Society10685100CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural Research ServiceUSDA, Mandan, North Dakota 58554USA

Personalised recommendations