Multiple factors co-limit short-term in situ soil carbon dioxide emissions Article

Raich, JW, Kaiser, MS, Dornbush, ME et al. (2023). Multiple factors co-limit short-term in situ soil carbon dioxide emissions . 18(2 February), 10.1371/journal.pone.0279839

cited authors

  • Raich, JW; Kaiser, MS; Dornbush, ME; Martin, JG; Valverde-Barrantes, OJ


  • Soil respiration is a major source of atmospheric CO2. If it increases with warming, it will counteract efforts to minimize climate change. To improve understanding of environmental controls over soil CO2 emission, we applied generalized linear modeling to a large dataset of in situ measurements of short-term soil respiration rate, with associated environmental attributes, which was gathered over multiple years from four locations that varied in climate, soil type, and vegetation. Soil respiration includes many CO2-producing processes: we theorized that different environmental factors could limit each process distinctly, thereby diminishing overall CO2 emissions. A baseline model that included soil temperature, soil volumetric water content, and their interaction was effective in estimating soil respiration at all four locations (p < 0.0001). Model fits, based on model log likelihoods, improved continuously as additional covariates were added, including mean daily air temperature, enhanced vegetation index (EVI), and quadratic terms for soil temperature and water content, and their interactions. The addition of land cover and its direct interactions with environmental variables further improved model fits. Significant interactions between covariates were observed at each location and at every stage of analysis, but the interaction terms varied among sites and models, and did not consistently maintain importance in more complex models. A main-effects model was therefore tested, which included soil temperature and water content, their quadratic effects, EVI, and air temperature, but no interactions. In that case all six covariates were significant (p < 0.0001) when applied across sites. We infer that local-scale soil-CO2 emissions are commonly co-limited by EVI and air temperature, in addition to soil temperature and water content. Importantly, the quadratic soil temperature and moisture terms were significantly negative: estimated soil-CO2 emissions declined when soil temperature exceeded 22.5◦C, and as soil moisture differed from the optimum of 0.27 m3 m-3

publication date

  • February 1, 2023

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


  • 18


  • 2 February