1SMEAR II station, University of Helsinki, 35500 Korkeakoski, Finland
2Department of Forest Sciences, P.O.~Box 27, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Physics, P.O.~Box 64, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*now at: Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O.~Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. Estimates of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from forests are based on the assumption that foliage has a steady emission potential over its lifetime, and that emissions are mainly modified by short term variations in light and temperature. However, in many field studies this has been challenged, and high emissions and atmospheric concentrations have been measured during periods of low biological activity such as in springtime. We conducted measurements during three years, using an online gas-exchange monitoring system to observe volatile organic emissions from a mature (1 yr old) and a growing Scots pine shoot. The emission rates of organic vapours (monoterpenes, methyl butenol (MBO), acetone and methanol) from vegetative buds of Scots pine during the dehardening and rapid shoot growth stages were one to two orders of magnitude higher than those from mature foliage. The normally assumed temperature dependency was not sufficient to explain the variations in emission rates during spring. The diurnal emission pattern of growing shoots differed from the diurnal cycle in temperature as well as from the diurnal emission pattern of mature shoots, which may be related to processes involved in shoot or needle elongation. Our findings imply that global estimations of monoterpene emission rates from forests are in need of revision, and that the physiological state of the plants should be taken into account when emissions of the reactive gases such as monoterpenes are estimated. The significant interannual variation in emission rates, related to changes in plant metabolic activity, has important implications to the aerosol precursor concentrations and chemical reactions in atmosphere, and potentially offers an explanation for the frequent aerosol formation events in spring.