Soil Warming and Carbon Loss from a Lake States Spodosol


Elevated soil temperatures may increase C loss from soils by accelerating microbial respiration and dissolved organic C leaching. We evaluated the effect of elevated soil temperatures on C losses from a forest Spodosol by incubating soil cores from surface (Oa + A + E) and subsurface (Bhs) horizons at two seasonal temperature regimes. One regime simulated the normal course of soil temperatures in northern lower Michigan, and the other simulated soil temperatures representing an amount of warming that might occur under some global warming theory calculations. We measured the amounts of CO2-C respired and dissolved organic C leached from the soil cores during a 33-wk period. Microbial respiration rates, after adjustment for variation in initial rates, were significantly increased by soil warming and were greater in surface than in subsurface horizons. Warming significantly increased cumulative C respired, with greater losses from surface soils ( 50 mg C g-1 C) as compared with subsurface soils ( 25 mg C g-1 C). Mean quantities of dissolved organic C leached, ranging from 2.3 to 3.2 mg C g-1 C, did not differ significantly by soil horizon or temperature regime. Increased microbial respiration in surface soil horizons was the process most responsive to soil warming in the Spodosol samples we examined. Whether this is a short-term effect that would disappear once pools of labile C are exhausted, or represents a long-term response to soil warming, remains uncertain.


soil warming, carbon loss, microbial respiration, Spodosol, soil temperature, soil heating, Spodosols, Michigan


Biology | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Soil Science