Iron Redox Reactions Can Drive Microtopographic Variation in Upland Soil Carbon Dioxide and Nitrous Oxide Emissions

Alexander H. Krichels, Emina Sipic, Wendy H. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Topographic depressions in upland soils experience anaerobic conditions conducive for iron (Fe) reduction following heavy rainfall. These depressional areas can also accumulate reactive Fe compounds, carbon (C), and nitrate, creating potential hot spots of Fe-mediated carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) production. While there are multiple mechanisms by which Fe redox reactions can facilitate CO2 and N2O production, it is unclear what their cumulative effect is on CO2 and N2O emissions in depressional soils under dynamic redox. We hypothesized that Fe reduction and oxidation facilitate greater CO2 and N2O emissions in depressional compared to upslope soils in response to flooding. To test this, we amended upslope and depressional soils with Fe(II), Fe(III), or labile C and measured CO2 and N2O emissions in response to flooding. We found that depressional soils have greater Fe reduction potential, which can contribute to soil CO2 emissions during flooded conditions when C is not limiting. Additionally, Fe(II) addition stimulated N2O production, suggesting that chemodenitrification may be an important pathway of N2O production in depressions that accumulate Fe(II). As rainfall intensification results in more frequent flooding of depressional upland soils, Fe-mediated CO2 and N2O production may become increasingly important pathways of soil greenhouse gas emissions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalSoil Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 29 2019


  • iron
  • redox
  • carbon dioxide
  • nitrous oxide
  • chemodenitrification
  • Feammox
  • Dissimilatory iron reduction
  • upland soils
  • flooding
  • global change

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