At the Takayama deciduous broadleaved forest Asiaflux site in Japan, the ecosystem carbon dynamics have been studied for more than two decades. In 2005, we installed non-dispersive infrared CO2 sensors in the soil below the site's flux tower to systematically study vertical soil-air CO2 dynamics and explain the behavior of soil surface CO2 efflux. Soil-air CO2 concentrations measured from June 2005 through May 2006 showed sinusoidal variation, with maxima in July and minima in winter, similar to the soil CO2 effluxes measured simultaneously using open-flow chambers. Soil-air CO2 concentrations increased with soil depth from 5 to 50 cm: from 2,000 to 8,000 ppm in the summer and from 2,000 to 3,000 ppm in the winter under snow. Summer soil-air CO2 concentrations were positively correlated with soil moisture on daily and weekly scales, indicating that the Oi, Oe, and A horizons, where decomposition is accelerated by high-moisture conditions, contributed substantially to CO2 emissions. This result is consistent with the short residence time (about 2 h) of CO2 in the soil and larger emissions in shallow soil layers based on our diffusion model. We revealed for the first time that soil-air CO2 concentrations in winter were correlated with both snow depth and wind speed. CO2 transfer through the snow was hundreds of times the gas diffusion rates in the soil. Our estimate of the CO2 efflux during the snow-cover season was larger than previous estimates at TKY, and confirmed the important contribution of the snow-cover season to the site's carbon dynamics.
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