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Disjunct eddy covariance measurements of oxygenated volatile organic compounds fluxes from an alfalfa field before and after cutting


There is interest in and significant uncertainty about the emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (ox VOCs) from vegetation to the atmosphere. Here, we measured the fluxes of selected oxVOCs from an alfalfa field, before, during, and after cutting, using a combination of disjunct eddy covariance and proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry. Over the course of 1 day a significant methanol flux of 4 mg m -2 h -1 was observed from undisturbed alfalfa with a maximum at 0800 LT, possibly caused by the evaporation of dew. A smaller release of hexenals during this day (0.04 mg m -2h -1) demonstrated the sensitivity of the method. Other results suggested that acetaldehyde and acetone were released in the afternoon but were lost by dry deposition in the evening and morning; deposition velocities were estimated to be 0.2 cm s -1 (acetaldehyde) and 0.09 cm s -1 (acetone). After the alfalfa was cut the emissions of methanol, acetaldehyde, acetone, and hexenals were significantly enhanced and remained high for three days during which the alfalfa was drying. After a rainstorm the oxVOC emissions from the cut, wet alfalfa increased even more. Nighttime measurements yielded low oxVOC fluxes in general, but the high variability of the concentrations during the night and the high degree of correlation between different oxVOCs suggest that the nighttime releases of oxVOCs from alfalfa were nonzero. This work suggests that the global source of oxVOCs due to the production of hay is of minor importance. The emission flux of methanol from vegetation during the growing season may be very large on a global basis.

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