skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Explicitly Representing Soil Microbial Processes In Earth System Models

Microbes influence soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition and the long-term stabilization of carbon (C) in soils. We contend that by revising the representation of microbial processes and their interactions with the physicochemical soil environment, Earth system models (ESMs) may make more realistic global C cycle projections. Explicit representation of microbial processes presents considerable challenges due to the scale at which these processes occur. Thus, applying microbial theory in ESMs requires a framework to link micro-scale process-level understanding and measurements to macro-scale models used to make decadal- to century-long projections. Here, we review the diversity, advantages, and pitfalls of simulating soil biogeochemical cycles using microbial-explicit modeling approaches. We present a roadmap for how to begin building, applying, and evaluating reliable microbial-explicit model formulations that can be applied in ESMs. Drawing from experience with traditional decomposition models we suggest: (1) guidelines for common model parameters and output that can facilitate future model intercomparisons; (2) development of benchmarking and model-data integration frameworks that can be used to effectively guide, inform, and evaluate model parameterizations with data from well-curated repositories; and (3) the application of scaling methods to integrate microbial-explicit soil biogeochemistry modules within ESMs. With contributions across scientific disciplines, we feel this roadmapmore » can advance our fundamental understanding of soil biogeochemical dynamics and more realistically project likely soil C response to environmental change at global scales.« less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29(10):1782-1800
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Biogeochemical cycles; processes; and modeling; Carbon cycling; Soils/pedology; Earth system modeling; Microbe/mineral interactions