Seasonality of isoprenoid emissions from a primary rainforest in central Amazonia

Alves EG, Jardine K, Tota J, Jardine A ,Ana Maria Yãnez-Serrano, Karl T, Tavares J, Nelson B, Gu D, Stavrakou T, Martin S, Artaxo P, Manzi A, Guenther A
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2016


Tropical rainforests are an important source of isoprenoid and other volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to the atmosphere. The seasonal variation of these compounds is however still poorly understood. In this study, vertical profiles of mixing ratios of isoprene, total monoterpenes and total sesquiterpenes, were measured within and above the canopy, in a primary rainforest in central Amazonia, using a proton transfer reaction – mass spectrometer (PTR-MS). Fluxes of these compounds from the canopy into the atmosphere were estimated from PTR-MS measurements by using an inverse Lagrangian transport model. Measurements were carried out continuously from September 2010 to January 2011, encompassing the dry and wet seasons. Mixing ratios were higher during the dry (isoprene – 2.68 ± 0.9 ppbv, total monoterpenes – 0.67 ± 0.3 ppbv; total sesquiterpenes – 0.09 ± 0.07 ppbv) than the wet season (isoprene – 1.66 ± 0.9 ppbv, total monoterpenes – 0.47 ± 0.2 ppbv; total sesquiterpenes – 0.03±0.02 ppbv) for all compounds. Ambient air temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) behaved similarly. Daytime isoprene and total monoterpene mixing ratios were highest within the canopy, rather than near the ground or above the canopy. By comparison, daytime total sesquiterpene mixing ratios were highest near the ground. Daytime fluxes varied signifi- cantly between seasons for all compounds. The maximums for isoprene (2.53 ± 0.5 µmol m−2 h −1 ) and total monoterpenes (1.77 ± 0.05 µmol m−2 h −1 ) were observed in the late dry season, whereas the maximum for total sesquiterpenes was found during the dry-to-wet transition season (0.77 ± 0.1 µmol m−2 h −1 ). These flux estimates suggest that the canopy is the main source of isoprenoids emitted into the atmosphere for all seasons. However, uncertainties in turbulence parameterization near the ground could affect estimates of fluxes that come from the ground. Leaf phenology seemed to be an important driver of seasonal variation of isoprenoid emissions. Although remote sensing observations of changes in leaf area index were used to estimate leaf phenology, MEGAN 2.1 did not fully capture the behavior of seasonal emissions observed in this study. This could be a result of very local effects on the observed emissions, but also suggest that other parameters need to be better determined in biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) models. Our results support established findings that seasonality of isoprenoids are driven by seasonal changes in light, temperature and leaf phenology. However, they suggest that leaf phenology and its role on isoprenoid production and emission from tropical plant species needs to be better understood in order to develop mechanistic explanations for seasonal variation in emissions. This also may reduce the uncertainties of model estimates associated with the responses to environmental factors. Therefore, this study strongly encourages long-term measurements of isoprenoid emissions, environmental factors and leaf phenology from leaf to ecosystem scale, with the purpose of improving BVOC model approaches that can characterize seasonality of isoprenoid emissions from tropical rainforests.


Alves EG, Jardine K, Tota J, et al. Seasonality of isoprenoid emissions from a primary rainforest in central Amazonia. Atmos chem phys. 2016;16:3903-3925.

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