Document Type


Publication Title

Geophysical Research Letters


American Geophysical Union

Publication Date



Natural vegetation annually emits 503 Tg yr−1 of isoprene (2-methyl-1,3 butadiene) to the global atmosphere where it reacts very rapidly with hydroxyl radicals and strongly regulates atmospheric chemistry. Current models of the compound's chemical behavior assume the atmosphere is the only significant sink; however, there is evidence that soil may consume isoprene. Here we show through field and laboratory studies that soil exposed to isoprene at low mixing ratios removed isoprene to concentrations below those commonly observed in forest canopies, and that the removal of isoprene was biologically mediated. On the basis of laboratory studies with soil from several different ecosystems worldwide, we provide a first approximation of a global annual soil sink for isoprene of 20.4 Tg yr−1, suggesting a soil sink should be included in models that attempt to describe the effect of isoprene emission on atmospheric chemical processes.


Accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. Copyright 1997 American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted.