Aerobic grasslands may consume significant amounts of atmospheric methane (CH4). We aimed (i) to assess the spatial and temporal variability of net CH4 fluxes from grasslands on aerobic sandy soils, and (ii) to explain the variability in net CH4 fluxes by differences in soil moisture content and temperature. Net CH4 fluxes were measured with vented closed flux chambers at two sites with low N input on sandy soils in the Netherlands: (i) Wolfheze, a heather grassland, and (ii) Bovenbuurtse Weilanden, a grassland which is mown twice a year. Spatial variability of net CH4 fluxes was analysed using geostatistics. In incubation experiments, the effects of soil moisture content and temperature on CH4 uptake capacity were assessed. Temporal variability of net CH4 fluxes at Wolfheze was related to differences in soil temperature (r2 of 0.57) and soil moisture content (r2 of 0.73). Atmospheric CH4 uptake was highest at high soil temperatures and intermediate soil moisture contents. Spatial variability of net CH4 fluxes was high, both at Wolfheze and at Bovenbuurtse Weilanden. Incubation experiments showed that, at soil moisture contents lower than 5øw/w), CH4 uptake was completely inhibited, probably due to physiological water stress of methanotrophs. At soil moisture contents higher than 50øw/w), CH4 uptake was greatly reduced, probably due to the slow down of diffusive CH4 and O2 transport in the soil, which may have resulted in reduced CH4 oxidation and possibly some CH4 production. Optimum soil moisture contents for CH4 uptake were in the range of 20 – 35øw/w), as prevailing in the field. The sensitivity of CH4 uptake to soil moisture content may result in short-term variability of net atmospheric CH4 uptake in response to precipitation and evapotranspiration, as well as in long-term variability due to changing precipitation patterns as a result of climate change.
van den Pol-Van Dasselaar, A., van Beusichem, M. L., & Oenema, O. (1998). Effects of soil moisture content and temperature on methane uptake by grasslands on sandy soils. Plant and Soil, 204, 213-222. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1004371309361