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Minor Changes in Vegetation and Carbon Gas Balance in a Boreal Mire under a Raised CO2 or NH4NO3 Supply


Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere or continuous nitrogen (N) deposition might alter the carbon (C) cycle in boreal mires and thus have significant impacts on the development of climate change. The atmospheric impact of the C cycle in mires is twofold: C accumulation attenuates and CH4 release strengthens the natural greenhouse effect. We studied the effects of an increased supply of CO2 or NH4NO3 on the vegetation and annual CO2 exchange in lawns of a boreal oligotrophic mire in eastern Finland over a 2-year period. Ten study plots were enclosed with mini-FACE (Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) rings. Five plots were vented with CO2-enriched air (target 560 ppmv), while their controls were vented with ambient air; five plots were sprayed with NH4NO3, corresponding to a cumulative addition of 3 g N m−2 a−1, while their controls were sprayed with distilled water only. A raised NH4NO3 supply seemed to affect the composition of the moss layer. Raised CO2 did not affect the vegetation, but gross photosynthesis increased significantly. The change in net CO2 exchange depended on the annual weather conditions. Our results suggest that C accumulation may increase in wet years and compensate for the warming effect caused by the increase in CH4 release from this mire. In contrast, a relatively dry and warm growing period favors decomposition and can even make the CO2 balance negative. Along with the increased CH4 release under raised CO2, the decreased C accumulation then increases the radiative forcing of boreal mires.

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Received 22 October 2001; accepted 13 May 2002.

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Saarnio, S., Järviö, S., Saarinen, T. et al. Minor Changes in Vegetation and Carbon Gas Balance in a Boreal Mire under a Raised CO2 or NH4NO3 Supply. Ecosystems 6, 0046–0060 (2003).

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