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Importance of root uptake of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ on $$^{14}$$C transfer to plants impacted by below-ground $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ release

Ota, Masakazu; Tanaka, Taku*

$$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ released from deep underground radioactive waste disposal facilities can be a belowground source of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ owing to microbial oxidation of $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ to $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ in soils. Environmental $$^{14}$$C models assume that the transfer of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ from soil to plant occurs via foliar uptake of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$. Nevertheless, the importance of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ root uptake is not well understood. In the present study, belowground transport and oxidation of $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ were modeled and incorporated into an existing land surface $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ model (SOLVEG-II) to assess the importance of root uptake on $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ transfer to plants. Performance of the model in calculating the belowground dynamics of $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ was validated by simulating a field experiment of $$^{13}$$CH$$_{4}$$ injection into subsoil. The model was then applied to $$^{14}$$C transfer in a hypothetical ecosystem impacted by continuous $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ input from the water table (bottom of one-meter thick soil). In a shallowly rooted ecosystem with rooting depth of 11 cm, foliar uptake of $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ was significant, accounting for 80% of the $$^{14}$$C accumulation in the leaves. In a deeply rooted ecosystem (rooting depth of 97 cm), where the root penetrated to depths close to the water-table, more than half (63%) the $$^{14}$$C accumulated in the leaves was transferred by the root uptake. We found that $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ root uptake in this ecosystem depended on the distribution of methane oxidation in the soil; all $$^{14}$$C accumulated in the leaves was transferred by the root uptake when methane oxidation occurred at considerable depths (e-folding depths of 20 cm, or 80 cm). These results indicate that $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ root uptake contributes significantly to $$^{14}$$CO$$_{2}$$ transfer to plants if $$^{14}$$CH$$_{4}$$ oxidation occurs at great depths and roots penetrate deeply into the soil.

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Category:Environmental Sciences

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