Measurements of greenhouse gas fluxes over many ecosystems have been made as part of the attempt to quantify global carbon and nitrogen cycles. In particular, annual flux observations are of great value for regional flux assessments, as well as model development and optimization. The chamber method is a popular approach for soil/ecosystem respiration and CH4
flux observations of terrestrial ecosystems. However, in situ flux chamber measurements are usually made with non-continuous sampling. To date, efficient methods for the application of such sporadic data to upscale temporally and obtain annual cumulative fluxes have not yet been determined. To address this issue, we tested the adequacy of non-continuous sampling using multi-source data aggregation. We collected 330 site-years monthly soil/ecosystem respiration and 154 site-years monthly CH4
flux data in China, all obtained using the chamber method. The data were randomly divided into a training group and verification group. Fluxes of all possible sampling months of a year, i.e., 4094 different month combinations were used to obtain the annual cumulative flux. The results showed a good linear relationship between the monthly flux and the annual cumulative flux. The flux obtained during the warm season from May to October generally played a more important role in annual flux estimations, as compared to other months. An independent verification analysis showed that the monthly flux of 1 to 4 months explained up to 67%, 89%, 94%, and 97% of the variability of the annual cumulative soil/ecosystem respiration and 92%, 99%, 99%, and 99% of the variability of the annual cumulative CH4
flux. This study supports the use of chamber-observed sporadic flux data, which remains the most commonly-used method for annual flux estimating. The flux estimation method used in this study can be used as a guide for designing sampling programs with the intention of estimating the annual cumulative flux.
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