Moisture Fluctuations Modulate Abiotic and Biotic Limitations of H2 Soil Uptake

Matteo B. Bertagni, Fabien Paulot, Amilcare Porporato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Soil uptake by H2-oxidizing bacteria is the main sink of the global hydrogen cycle, accounting for nearly 80% of the atmospheric H2 consumption. Although the H2 uptake is strongly influenced by soil moisture, little attention has been paid to coherently couple the water and hydrogen dynamics in soils. Toward this goal, we improve the mechanistic representation of the H2 uptake as a function of soil moisture and highlight the role of the moisture temporal fluctuations on the biotic consumption of H2. The results show that, due to the strongly nonlinear relationship between soil moisture and H2 uptake, addressing the dry-wet sequences is necessary to characterize the H2 uptake in semi-arid regions correctly. From novel analytical relationships validated with field data, we also infer the biotic and abiotic limitations in the global soil H2 uptake. It is shown that, diffusion generally limits the uptake in humid temperate and tropical regions, while biotic limitations tend to occur in very arid or cold soils. Finally, we discuss the implications that climate change may have on the H2 soil sink.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GB006987
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


  • bacteria
  • gas diffusion
  • hydrogen
  • soil moisture
  • soil uptake


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