, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 112–126 | Cite as

Six-year Stable Annual Uptake of Carbon Dioxide in Intensively Managed Humid Temperate Grassland

  • Matthias PeichlEmail author
  • Paul Leahy
  • Gerard Kiely


Variability and future alterations in regional and global climate patterns may exert a strong control on the carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange of grassland ecosystems. We used 6 years of eddy-covariance measurements to evaluate the impacts of seasonal and inter-annual variations in environmental conditions on the net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE), gross ecosystem production (GEP), and ecosystem respiration (ER) of an intensively managed grassland in the humid temperate climate of southern Ireland. In all the years of the study period, considerable uptake of atmospheric CO2 occurred in this grassland with a narrow range in the annual NEE from −245 to −284 g C m−2 y−1, with the exception of 2008 in which the NEE reached −352 g C m−2 y−1. None of the measured environmental variables (air temperature (Ta), soil moisture, photosynthetically active radiation, vapor pressure deficit (VPD), precipitation (PPT), and so on) correlated with NEE on a seasonal or annual scale because of the equal responses from the component fluxes GEP and ER to variances in these variables. Pronounced reduction of summer PPT in two out of the six studied years correlated with decreases in both GEP and ER, but not with NEE. Thus, the stable annual NEE was primarily achieved through a strong coupling of ER and GEP on seasonal and annual scales. Limited inter-annual variations in Ta (±0.5°C) and generally sufficient soil moisture availability may have further favored a stable annual NEE. Monthly ecosystem carbon use efficiency (CUE; as the ratio of NEE:GEP) during the main growing season (April 1–September 30) was negatively correlated with temperature and VPD, but positively correlated with soil moisture, whereas the annual CUE correlated negatively with annual NEE. Thus, although drier and warmer summers may mildly reduce the uptake potential, the annual uptake of atmospheric CO2, in this intensively managed grassland, may be expected to continue even under predicted future climatic changes in the humid temperate climate region.

Key words

carbon use efficiency climate change eddy-covariance flux inter-annual variability Ireland Lolium perenne L. net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide 



This study was financed by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan 2000–2006 (Grant No. 2001-CC/CD-(5/7)), and the STRIVE program 2007–2013 (Grant No. 2008-CCRP-1.1A) which is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency. We would like to thank Kilian Murphy and Nelius Foley for their support in instrument maintenance and data collection. We also express our gratitude to the local farmers for granting access to their private land to conduct this study. Helpful comments from the reviewers are greatly appreciated.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Hydrology, Micrometeorology and Climate Change, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity College CorkCorkRepublic of Ireland

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