Dissolved gas dynamics in wetland soils: Root-mediated gas transfer kinetics determined via push-pull tracer tests
Gas transfer processes are fundamental to the biogeochemical and water quality functions of wetlands, yet there is limited knowledge of the rates and pathways of soil-atmosphere exchange for gases other than oxygen and methane (CH4). In this study, we use a novel push-pull technique with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and helium (He) as dissolved gas tracers to quantify the kinetics of root-mediated gas transfer, which is a critical efflux pathway for gases from wetland soils. This tracer approach disentangles the effects of physical transport from simultaneous reaction in saturated, vegetated wetland soils. We measured significant seasonal variation in first-order gas exchange rate constants, with smaller spatial variations between different soil depths and vegetation zones in a New Jersey tidal marsh. Gas transfer rates for most biogeochemical trace gases are expected to be bracketed by the rate constants for SF6 and He, which ranged from approximate to 10(-2) to 2 x 10(-1) h(-1) at our site. A modified Damkohler number analysis is used to evaluate the balance between biochemical reaction and root-driven gas exchange in governing the fate of environmental trace gases in rooted, anaerobic soils. This approach confirmed the importance of plant gas transport for CH4, and showed that root-driven transport may affect nitrous oxide (N2O) balances in settings where N2O reduction rates are slow.