Seasonal fluxes of carbonyl sulfide in a midlatitude forest

Róisín Commane, Laura K. Meredith, Ian T. Baker, Joseph A. Berry, J. William Munger, Stephen A. Montzka, Pamela H. Templer, Stephanie M. Juice, Mark S. Zahniser, Steven C. Wofsy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Carbonyl sulfide (OCS), the most abundant sulfur gas in the atmosphere, has a summer minimum associated with uptake by vegetation and soils, closely correlated with CO2 . We report the first direct measurements to our knowledge of the ecosystem flux of OCS throughout an annual cycle, at a mixed temperate forest. The forest took up OCS during most of the growing season with an overall uptake of 1.36 ± 0.01 mol OCS per ha (43.5 ± 0.5 g S per ha, 95% confidence intervals) for the year. Daytime fluxes accounted for 72% of total uptake. Both soils and incompletely closed stomata in the canopy contributed to nighttime fluxes. Unexpected net OCS emission occurred during the warmest weeks in summer. Many requirements necessary to use fluxes of OCS as a simple estimate of photosynthesis were not met because OCS fluxes did not have a constant relationship with photosynthesis throughout an entire day or over the entire year. However, OCS fluxes provide a direct measure of ecosystem-scale stomatal conductance and mesophyll function, without relying on measures of soil evaporation or leaf temperature, and reveal previously unseen heterogeneity of forest canopy processes. Observations of OCS flux provide powerful, independent means to test and refine land surface and carbon cycle models at the ecosystem scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14162-14167
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 17 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon cycle
  • Carbonyl sulfide
  • Stomatal conductance
  • Sulfur cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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