Estimating nocturnal ecosystem respiration from the vertical turbulent flux and change in storage of CO2

Eva van Gorsel, Nicolas Delpierre, Ray Leuning, Andy Black, J. William Munger, Steven Wofsy, Marc Aubinet, Christian Feigenwinter, Jason Beringer, Damien Bonal, Baozhang Chen, Jiquan Chen, Robert Clement, Kenneth J. Davis, Ankur R. Desai, Danilo Dragoni, Sophia Etzold, Thomas Grünwald, Lianhong Gu, Bernhard HeineschLucy R. Hutyra, Wilma W.P. Jans, Werner Kutsch, B. E. Law, Monique Y. Leclerc, Ivan Mammarella, Leonardo Montagnani, Asko Noormets, Corinna Rebmann, Sonia Wharton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Micrometeorological measurements of nighttime ecosystem respiration can be systematically biased when stable atmospheric conditions lead to drainage flows associated with decoupling of air flow above and within plant canopies. The associated horizontal and vertical advective fluxes cannot be measured using instrumentation on the single towers typically used at micrometeorological sites. A common approach to minimize bias is to use a threshold in friction velocity, u*, to exclude periods when advection is assumed to be important, but this is problematic in situations when in-canopy flows are decoupled from the flow above. Using data from 25 flux stations in a wide variety of forest ecosystems globally, we examine the generality of a novel approach to estimating nocturnal respiration developed by van Gorsel et al. (van Gorsel, E., Leuning, R., Cleugh, H.A., Keith, H., Suni, T., 2007. Nocturnal carbon efflux: reconciliation of eddy covariance and chamber measurements using an alternative to the u*-threshold filtering technique. Tellus 59B, 397-403, Tellus, 59B, 307-403). The approach is based on the assumption that advection is small relative to the vertical turbulent flux (FC) and change in storage (FS) of CO2 in the few hours after sundown. The sum of FC and FS reach a maximum during this period which is used to derive a temperature response function for ecosystem respiration. Measured hourly soil temperatures are then used with this function to estimate respiration RRmax. The new approach yielded excellent agreement with (1) independent measurements using respiration chambers, (2) with estimates using ecosystem light-response curves of Fc + Fs extrapolated to zero light, RLRC, and (3) with a detailed process-based forest ecosystem model, Rcast. At most sites respiration rates estimated using the u*-filter, Rust, were smaller than RRmax and RLRC. Agreement of our approach with independent measurements indicates that RRmax provides an excellent estimate of nighttime ecosystem respiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1919-1930
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 3 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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