The Design and Development of a Closed Chamber for the in-situ Quantification of Dryland Soil Carbon Dioxide Fluxes

Stephen R. Hoon, Andrew D. Thomas, Patricia E Linton

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11 Citations (SciVal)


This paper describes the design features and capabilities of a portable automated in-situ closed chamber (ISCC) for the quantification of CO2 fluxes in dryland soils where both photosynthetic and respiratory components may be associated with a cyanobacterial crust. The processes of CO2 flux in dryland soils are briefly described in order to clarify the conditions that make quantification of these fluxes problematic. The instrumentation currently available for in-situ soil CO2 flux measurements is then reviewed demonstrating their inadequacies for the dryland environment. The ISCC described here is a member of the closed or enrichment class of soil respiration chambers. The ISCC, however, features an optical window possessing high (>90%) transmission in the photosynthetic active region (PAR) of the solar irradiance spectrum, permitting observations of photosynthesis. The ISCC possesses automatic venting and purging so that gaseous concentrations inside the chamber do not change from ambient sufficiently to significantly affect diffusion. The ISCC features both active and passive cooling employing internal solid-state Peltier coolers and external aluminised Mylar respectively. This avoids severe disturbance of the microclimate within the chamber due to admission of high fluxes of PAR and permits in-situ operation under a wide range of ambient field temperatures (~ −5 to 40°C). Sensors internal to the chamber monitor temperature, relative humidity, irradiance and pressure. In this implementation the ISCC is coupled to a portable gas chromatograph (Agilent GC-3000) to sample the chamber atmosphere. Indicative data for Kalahari Sand soils of Botswana are presented as an illustration of the general performance characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages10
JournalGeographical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2009


  • soil CO2 flux
  • drylands
  • photosynthetically active radiation
  • soil respiration chambers
  • cyanobacterial soil crusts
  • Kalahari


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