EGU General Assembly 2020
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Current knowledge and future perspectives on soil drying and rewetting, by the scientific community

Albert C. Brangarí1, Lettice Hicks2, Ainara Leizeaga2, and Johannes Rousk2
Albert C. Brangarí et al.
  • 1Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden (
  • 2Microbial Ecology, Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Drying and rewetting events induce enormous dynamics in soil biogeochemistry, known as the “Birch effect”. A series of laboratory studies have shown that during this phenomenon, respiration and microbial growth are uncoupled. In addition, it has been found that soil microorganisms exhibit one of two different response-patterns, the dynamics of which are strongly regulated by the harshness of the moisture disturbance experienced by soil microbes. Despite the potential significance of these responses for the global carbon cycle, the characteristics and mechanisms underlying them are still unclear.

In order to shed some light on the current status of research in this field, we will present the outcomes of an international workshop organized in Lund in November 2019. During it, we integrated researchers from different environments in order to identify knowledge-gaps and tackle outstanding and new challenges in this field. We will review the characteristics of the growth and respiration responses to moisture fluctuations and the putative mechanisms and factors governing them. We will also discuss the advantages of combining empirical and modelling approaches by using our own group experience as a case example.

How to cite: Brangarí, A. C., Hicks, L., Leizeaga, A., and Rousk, J.: Current knowledge and future perspectives on soil drying and rewetting, by the scientific community, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20220,, 2020

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Presentation version 1 – uploaded on 05 May 2020
  • CC1: Radiocarbon observations following drying/rewetting, Jeffrey Beem Miller, 07 May 2020

    Greetings---thanks for sharing the outcomes of this interesting workshop. I look forward to future publications from the group!

    Perhaps you or your colleagues would be interested in some experiments I conducted looking at the 14C signature of heterotrophic respiration in laboratory soil incubations following drying and rewetting. We found that drying and rewetting soils leads to the release of older carbon as compared to moist controls. Interestingly, 14C-CO2 released during the period immediately following rewetting (96 hours) was not significantly different than the 14C-CO2 released during the incubation period following this, suggesting that changes in substrate availability following drying and rewetting are significant and persistent.

    Thanks for your time, and if you are interested, please check out my display:


    Jeff Beem-Miller (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry)