Soil Trace Gas Emissions and Climate Change

  • Klaus Butterbach-Bahl
  • Eugenio Diaz-Pines
  • Michael Dannenmann
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Global Environmental Pollution book series (EGEP, volume 1)


Soils are a predominant source for the greenhouse gases nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Moreover, soils may also act as significant sinks for both gases, though the sink strength is still not well defined with regard to N2O. The soil-atmosphere exchange of N2O and CH4 is driven by reductive as well as oxidative microbial C and N turnover processes, both of which largely depend on soil environmental conditions but also on the availability and dispersion of substrates at site and landscape scales. Climate, specifically soil temperature and moisture, is a key primary driver of microbial activity in soils. Therefore, any change in climate is expected to have an impact on soil microbial processes. However, due to the complexity of processes involved in the microbial production and consumption of CH4 and N2O in soils and the close networking of these processes with ecosystem (e.g., plant N uptake and C assimilation and respiration) and landscape processes (nutrient dispersion, regional hydrology), we are far from predicting how climate change will affect biosphere-atmosphere CH4 and N2O exchange. To be able to predict these climate change effects, it will be necessary to improve our process understanding and to carry out regional studies across various ecosystems and climate zones which closely link experimental as well as modeling activities. This will result in a better understanding of regional nutrient cycling and drivers of biosphere-atmosphere exchange at regional scale. This information is needed to define efficient mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize the detrimental effect of soil greenhouse gas emissions on our global climate system.


Methanogenesis Methane oxidation Nitrification Denitrification Soil greenhouse gas emission 


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Additional Recommended Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus Butterbach-Bahl
    • 1
  • Eugenio Diaz-Pines
    • 1
  • Michael Dannenmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU)Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)Garmisch-PartenkirchenGermany

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