Technical Note: Mesocosm approach to quantify dissolved inorganic carbon percolation fluxes
Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) fluxes across the vadose zone are influenced by a complex interplay of biological, chemical and physical factors. A novel soil mesocosm system was evaluated as a tool for providing information on the mechanisms behind DIC percolation to the groundwater from unplanted soil. Carbon dioxide partial pressure ( pCO 2), alkalinity, soil moisture and temperature were measured with depth and time, and DIC in the percolate was quantified using a sodium hydroxide trap. Results showed good reproducibility between two replicate mesocosms. The pCO 2 varied between 0.2 and 1.1%, and the alkalinity was 0.1–0.6 meq L −1. The measured cumulative effluent DIC flux over the 78-day experimental period was 185–196 mg L −1 m −2 and in the same range as estimates derived from pCO 2 and alkalinity in samples extracted from the side of the mesocosm column and the drainage flux. Our results indicate that the mesocosm system is a promising tool for studying DIC percolation fluxes and other biogeochemical transport processes in unsaturated environments.