VOC emission experiments in nature
and lab

Emissions of reactive gases (volatile organic compounds, VOCs) have been measured throughout the summer 2012 in Abisko, Northern Sweden and Zackenberg, NE Greenland. The focus has been on long-term climate change experiments in order to find out how for increasing temperature, changes in the cloud cover and vegetation affect VOC emissions.

VOC experiment in Zackenberg, Greenland.

If the emissions increase under the rapidly proceeding climate change, this may have consequences on the climate itself; the VOCs namely affect the lifetime of greenhouse gases and contribute to cooling of climate via production of tiny air particles (aerosols). Altered VOC emissions can also confuse the communication between plants and animals because these gases also serve as messages between organisms.

Birch forest floor with CO2 and UV-B addition for 20 years. Abisco, Sweden.

Now the work continues in the laboratory where we study the leaves of the Arctic plants and try to understand if the adaptations in leaf structure can explain the changes in VOC emissions. Next summer we will continue VOC measurements in different locations and on different – yet unstudied – plant species. More focus will be directed on the role of soil and decomposing litter with the help of new experiments established in 2012.