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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: original research article 15 Apr 2019

Submitted as: original research article | 15 Apr 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal SOIL (SOIL).

Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur (CNS) status and dynamics in Amazon basin upland soils, Brazil

Jörg Matschullat1, Roberval Monteiro Bezerra de Lima2, Sophie F. von Fromm1,3, Solveig Pospiech4, Andrea M. Ramos5, Gilvan Coimbra Martins2, and Katharina Lenhart6 Jörg Matschullat et al.
  • 1Interdisciplinary Environmental Research Centre, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Brennhausgasse 14, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
  • 2Embrapa Amazônia Ocidental, Rodovia AM 10, km 29, s/n, Manaus, AM, CEP 69010-970, Brazil
  • 3Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, P.O. Box 100164, 07701 Jena, Germany
  • 4Helmholtz Institute for Resource Technology, Chemnitzer Str. 40, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
  • 5National Institute for Meteorology INMET, St. Sudoeste-Brasília, DF, CEP 70680-900, Brazil
  • 6Technische Hochschule Bingen, Berlinstraße 109, 55411 Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Abstract. Given the dimensions of the Amazon basin (7.5 million km2), its internal dynamics, increasing anthropogenic strain on this large biome, and its global role as one of two continental biospheric tipping elements, it appears crucial to have data-based knowledge on carbon and nitrogen concentrations and pools as well as on possible intra-annual dynamics. We quantified carbon (Ct, Corg), nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) concentrations in litter (ORG) and mineral soil material (TOP 0–20 cm, BOT 30–50 cm) of upland (terra firme) oxisols across Amazonas state and present a first pool calculation. Data are based on triplicate seasonal sampling at 29 sites (forest and post-forest) within the binational project EcoRespira-Amazon (ERA). Repeated sampling increased data accuracy and allows for interpreting intra-annual (seasonal) and climate-change related dynamics. Extreme conditions between the dry season in 2016 and the subsequent wet season (ENSO-related) show differences more clearly. Median CNS in the Amazon basin TOP soils (Ct 1.9, Corg 1.6, N 0.15, S 0.03 wt-% under forest canopy) as well as Corg / N ratios show concentrations similar to European soils (FOREGS, GEMAS). TOP Ct concentrations ranged from 1.02 to 3.29 wt-% (medianForest 2.17 wt-%; medianPost-Forest 1.75 wt-%), N from 0.088 to 0.233 wt-% (medianForest 0.17 wt-%; medianPost-Forest 0.09 wt-%) and S from 0.012 to 0.051 wt.-% (medianForest 0.03 wt.-%; medianPost-Forest 0.02 wt-%). Corg / N ratios ranged from 6 to 14 (median 10). A first pool calculation (hectare-based) illustrates forest versus post-forest changes. The elements are unevenly distributed in the basin with generally higher CNS values in the central part (Amazonas graben) as compared to the southern part of the basin. Deforestation and drought conditions lead to C and N losses – within 50 years after deforestation, C and N losses average 10 to 15 %. Regional climate change with increased drought will likely speed up carbon and nitrogen losses.

Jörg Matschullat et al.
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Jörg Matschullat et al.
Jörg Matschullat et al.
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Short summary
Against common understanding, Amazon basin upland soils contain average carbon, nitrogen and sulfur concentrations similar to, e.g., European soils. The same applies for average C / N ratios. Post-forest land (e.g., pasture land, plantations) show up to 20 % of carbon and nitrogen losses after deforestation. Distinct seasonal dynamics are visible for the generally low pH-values and very low electrical conductivities in soil solution – a likely driver of seasonal element mobility.
Against common understanding, Amazon basin upland soils contain average carbon, nitrogen and...