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Membrane probe array: Technique development and observation of CO2 and CH4 diurnal oscillations in peat profile

  • N. S. Panikov
  • Mikhail Mastepanov
  • Torben Christensen
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 1712-1723
Publication/Series: Soil Biology & Biochemistry
Volume: 39
Issue: 7
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

The purpose of this study was to monitor the dynamics of gases such as CO2 and CH4 in a soil profile with sufficient temporal resolution to observe possible diurnal variations. A computer-controlled device called a membrane probes array (MPA) was developed that consisted of 9-12 individual membrane probes installed at various soil depths. Each probe was made of a stainless steel pipe with a 1 mm orifice covered with a silicone membrane. Soil gases diffuse through the membrane at a rate proportional to the ambient soil gas concentration. To measure diffusion rates, the probes are flushed with N-2 one-by-one at regular time intervals and accumulated gas is detected as a spike with IR and FID analyzers. The longer the period between flushings the higher the gas accumulation and the lower the detection limit for a particular soil gas. The developed MPA agreed well with conventional manual gas sampling in West-Siberian mesotrophic fen. In peat cores with intact Carex-Sphagnum vegetation incubated under constant temperature, water level and artificial light:dark (14: 10) cycles, regular diurnal oscillations of soil CO2 and CH4 occurred in the upper part of the peat core down to 19 cm. Gas content in the top layer (3 cm) grew during the light phase, and returned back during the dark phase. In layers further down in the soil, the same events were observed but with progressively increased time delay and lower amplitude. The obtained data agreed with the hypothesis that diurnal variations in soil CO2 and CH4 content are caused by periodic changes in intensity of root exudation that provide a major C- and energy source for soil microorganisms including methanogens. At a soil depth of 23 cm, where the peak of gas bubbles occurred, the signal for both gases became chaotic and not related to the light:dark cycle.


  • Physical Geography
  • methane
  • gradient
  • sensitivity
  • diffusion
  • membrane inlet
  • transient process
  • kinetics
  • gas profile
  • bubbles


  • ISSN: 0038-0717
E-mail: mikhail [dot] mastepanov [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se


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Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
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