Plant Uptake of Atmospheric Carbonyl Sulfide in Coast Redwood Forests

J. E. Campbell, M. E. Whelan, J. A. Berry, T. W. Hilton, A. Zumkehr, J. Stinecipher, Y. Lu, A. Kornfeld, U. Seibt, T. E. Dawson, S. A. Montzka, I. T. Baker, S. Kulkarni, Y. Wang, S. C. Herndon, M. S. Zahniser, R. Commane, M. E. Loik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The future resilience of coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) is now of critical concern due to the detection of a 33% decline in California coastal fog over the 20th century. However, ecosystem-scale measurements of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance are challenging in coast redwood forests, making it difficult to anticipate the impacts of future changes in fog. To address this methodological problem, we explore coastal variations in atmospheric carbonyl sulfide (COS or OCS), which could potentially be used as a tracer of these ecosystem processes. We conducted atmospheric flask campaigns in coast redwood sites, sampling at surface heights and in the canopy (~70 m), at the University of California Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve and Big Basin State Park. We simulated COS atmosphere-biosphere exchange with a high-resolution 3-D model to interpret these data. Flask measurements indicated a persistent daytime drawdown between the coast and the downwind forest (45 ± 6 ppt COS) that is consistent with the expected relationship between COS plant uptake, stomatal conductance, and gross primary production. Other sources and sinks of COS that could introduce noise to the COS tracer technique (soils, anthropogenic activity, nocturnal plant uptake, and surface hydrolysis on leaves) are likely to be small relative to daytime COS plant uptake. These results suggest that COS measurements may be useful for making ecosystem-scale estimates of carbon, water, and energy exchange in coast redwood forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3391-3404
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science
  • Forestry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Palaeontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • carbon dioxide
  • carbonyl sulfide
  • coast
  • fog
  • gross primary production
  • redwood


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