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Atmospheric turbulence triggers pronounced diel pattern in karst carbonate geochemistry

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

CO2 exchange between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere is key to understanding the feedbacks between climate change and the land surface. In regions with carbonaceous parent material, CO2 exchange patterns occur that cannot be explained by biological processes, such as disproportionate outgassing during the daytime or night-time CO2 uptake during periods when all vegetation is senescent. Neither of these phenomena can be attributed to carbonate weathering reactions, since their CO2 exchange rates are too small. Soil ventilation induced by high atmospheric turbulence is found to explain atypical CO2 exchange between carbonaceous systems and the atmosphere. However, by strongly altering subsurface CO2 concentrations, ventilation can be expected to influence carbonate weathering rates. By imposing ventilation-driven CO2 outgassing in a carbonate weathering model, we show here that carbonate geochemistry is accelerated and does play a surprisingly large role in the observed CO2 exchange pattern of a semi-arid ecosystem. We found that by rapidly depleting soil CO2 during the daytime, ventilation disturbs soil carbonate equilibria and therefore strongly magnifies daytime carbonate precipitation and associated CO2 production. At night, ventilation ceases and the depleted CO2 concentrations increase steadily. Dissolution of carbonate is now enhanced, which consumes CO2 and largely compensates for the enhanced daytime carbonate precipitation. This is why only a relatively small effect on global carbonate weathering rates is to be expected. On the short term, however, ventilation has a drastic effect on synoptic carbonate weathering rates, resulting in a pronounced diel pattern that exacerbates the non-biological behavior of soil-atmosphere CO2 exchanges in dry regions with carbonate soils.
Journal: Biogeosciences
ISSN: 1726-4170
Volume: 10
Pages: 5009 - 5017
Publication year:2013