Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The ozone transfer between atmosphere and vegetation. A study on Scots pine in the field

Nuria Altimir

Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Forest Ecology.

Ozone (O3) is a reactive gas present in the troposphere in the range of parts per billion (ppb), i.e. molecules of O3 in 109 molecules of air. Its strong oxidative capacity makes it a key element in tropospheric chemistry and a threat to the integrity of materials, including living organisms. Knowledge and control of O3 levels are an issue in relation to indoor air quality, building material endurance, respiratory human disorders, and plant performance. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas and its abundance is relevant to global warming. The interaction of the lower troposphere with vegetated landscapes results in O3 being removed from the atmosphere by reactions that lead to the oxidation of plant-related components. Details on the rate and pattern of removal on different landscapes as well as the ultimate mechanisms by which this occurs are not fully resolved. This thesis analysed the controlling processes of the transfer of ozone at the air-plant interface. Improvement in the knowledge of these processes benefits the prediction of both atmospheric removal of O3 and its impact on vegetation.

This study was based on the measurement and analysis of multi-year field measurements of O3 flux to Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) foliage with a shoot-scale gas-exchange enclosure system. In addition, the analyses made use of simultaneous CO2 and H2O exchange, canopy-scale O3, CO2 and H2O exchange, foliage surface wetness, and environmental variables. All data was gathered at the SMEAR measuring station (southern Finland).

Enclosure gas-exchange techniques such as those commonly used for the measure of CO2 and water vapour can be applied to the measure of ozone gas-exchange in the field. Through analysis of the system dynamics the occurring disturbances and noise can be identified. In the system used in this study, the possible artefacts arising from the ozone reactivity towards the system materials in combination with low background concentrations need to be taken into account. The main artefact was the loss of ozone towards the chamber walls, which was found to be very variable. The level of wall-loss was obtained from simultaneous and continuous measurements, and was included in the formulation of the mass balance of O3 concentration inside the chamber.

The analysis of the field measurements in this study show that the flux of ozone to the Scots pine foliage is generated in about equal proportions by stomatal and non-stomatal controlled processes. Deposition towards foliage and forest is sustained also during night and winter when stomatal gas-exchange is low or absent. The non-stomatal portion of the flux was analysed further. The pattern of flux in time was found to be an overlap of the patterns of biological activity and presence of wetness in the environment. This was seen to occur both at the shoot and canopy scale. The presence of wetness enhanced the flux not only in the presence of liquid droplets but also during existence of a moisture film on the plant surfaces. The existence of these films and their relation to the ozone sinks was determined by simultaneous measurements of leaf surface wetness and ozone flux. The results seem to suggest ozone would be reacting at the foliage surface and the reaction rate would be mediated by the presence of surface wetness. Alternative mechanisms were discussed, including nocturnal stomatal aperture and emission of reactive volatile compounds. The prediction of the total flux could thus be based on a combination of a model of stomatal behaviour and a model of water absorption on the foliage surfaces. The concepts behind the division of stomatal and non-stomatal sinks were reconsidered.

This study showed that it is theoretically possible that a sink located before or near the stomatal aperture prevents or diminishes the diffusion of ozone towards the intercellular air space of the mesophyll. This obstacle to stomatal diffusion happens only under certain conditions, which include a very low presence of reaction sites in the mesophyll, an extremely strong sink located on the outer surfaces or stomatal pore. The relevance, or existence, of this process in natural conditions would need to be assessed further. Potentially strong reactions were considered, including dissolved sulphate, volatile organic compounds, and apoplastic ascorbic acid. Information on the location and the relative abundance of these compounds would be valuable.

The highest total flux towards the foliage and forest happens when both the plant activity and ambient moisture are high. The highest uptake into the interior of the foliage happens at large stomatal apertures, provided that scavenging reactions located near the stomatal pore are weak or non-existent.

The discussion covers the methodological developments of this study, the relevance of the different controlling factors of ozone flux, the partition amongst its component, and the possible mechanisms of non-stomatal uptake.

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Last updated 15.09.2006

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