Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Carbon exchange

Equipment used to collect the soil surface CO2 effl ux in order to measure its isotopic composition.

Our research provides robust measurement and modeling tools to quantify and forecast sources and sinks of carbon dioxide (CO2), and the effects of land-use change and management on land-atmosphere CO2 exchange at multiple scales in New Zealand’s key terrestrial systems.

Studies include net emissions from pastoral agricultural systems and the ability of New Zealand’s indigenous and exotic forests (including shrubland) to offset emissions by acting as a “sink” for carbon dioxide.

Current projects are:

  • Quantifying the net exchange of carbon dioxide in natural and managed grassland and forest systems, including variation in above- and below-ground processes and the effects of land-use change and management
  • Quantifying the key processes regulating the net exchange of carbon dioxide in terrestrial systems at site scales, and the sensitivities and uncertainties of these processes to variation in climate, environmental and land-use variables
  • Developing, testing and validating process-based models to quantify the key processes regulating net exchange of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in terrestrial systems at site/paddock scales, including effects of variation in climate, environmental and land-use variables.

Results of this research will determine the extent to which carbon stored in vegetation may be used to offset agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, and will enable improved prediction and verification of New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions under a range of climate and land-use scenarios.


  • Liu R, Pan L, Jenerette GD, Wang Q, Cieraad E, Li Y 2012. High efficiency in water use and carbon gain in a wet year for a desert halophyte community. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 162–163(0): 127-135.
  • Ow LF, Whitehead D, Walcroft AS, Turnbull MH 2010. Seasonal variation in foliar carbon exchange in Pinus radiata and Populus deltoides: respiration acclimates fully to changes in temperature but photosynthesis does not. Global change biology 16(1): 288-302.
  • Powers HH, Hunt JE, Hanson DT, McDowell NG 2010. A dynamic soil chamber system coupled with a tunable diode laser for online measurements of delta C-13, delta O-18, and efflux rate of soil-respired CO2. Rapid communications in mass spectrometry 24(3): 243-253.
  • Simioni G, Ritson P, Kirschbaum MUF, McGrath J, Dumbrell I, Copeland B 2009. The carbon budget of Pinus radiata plantations in south-western Australia under four climate change scenarios. Tree physiology 29(9): 1081-1093.
  • Simioni G, Ritson P, McGrath J, Kirschbaum MUF, Copeland B, Dumbrell I 2008. Predicting wood production and net ecosystem carbon exchange of Pinus radiata plantations in south-western Australia: Application of a process-based model. Forest ecology and management 255(3-4): 901-912.
  • Kirschbaum MUF, Keith H, Leuning R, Cleugh HA, Jacobsen KL, van Gorsel E, Raison RJ 2007. Modelling net ecosystem carbon and water exchange of a temperate Eucalyptus delegatensis forest using multiple constraints. Agricultural and forest meteorology 145(1-2): 48-68.
  • Nieveen JP, Campbell DI, Schipper LA, Blair IJ 2005. Carbon exchange of grazed pasture on a drained peat soil. Global change biology 11(4): 607-618.
  • Hunt JE, Kelliher FM, McSeveny TM, Ross DJ, Whitehead D 2004. Long-term carbon exchange in a sparse, seasonally dry tussock grassland. Global change biology 10(10): 1785-1800.
  • DeLucia EH, Turnbull MH, Walcroft AS, Griffin KL, Tissue DT, Glenny D, McSeveny TM, Whitehead D 2003/8. The contribution of bryophytes to the carbon exchange for a temperate rainforest. Global change biology 9(8): 1158-1170.
All Publications