skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models. Current status and future directions

Abstract

Soil is the largest organic carbon (C) pool of terrestrial ecosystems, and loss from soil accounts for a large pro portion of land-atmosphere C exchange. Due to large pool size and variable residence time from years to millennia, even small changes in soil organic C(SOC) have substantial effects on the terrestrial C budget, thereby affecting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)concentration and climate change. In the past decades, a wide variety of studies have been conducted to quantify global SOC stocks and soil exchange with the atmosphere through site measurements, inventories, and empirical/process-based modeling. However, these estimates are highly uncertain and identifying major driving forces controlling soil C storage and fluxes remains a key research challenge his study has compiled century-long (1901-2010)estimates of SOC storage and heterotrophic respiration (Rh) from ten terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) in the Multi-scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project (MsTMIP) and two observation based datasets. The ten-TBM ensemble shows that global SOC estimate range from 4 to 2111 Pg C (1 Pg = 10 15g) with a median value of 1158 Pg C33 in 2010. Modeling approach estimates a broad range of Rh from 35 to 69 Pg C yr -1 with a median value of 51Pgmore » C yr -1 during 200–2010. The largest uncertainty in SOC stocks exists in the 40–65°N latitude band while Rh differences are the largest in the tropics. All the models agreed that climate and land use changes have decreased SOC stocks while elevated CO 2 and atmospheric nitrogen deposition have increased SOC stocks though the response varied significantly among models. Model representations of temperature and moisture sensitivity,nutrient limitation and land use partially explain the divergent estimates of global SOC stocks and soil fluxes in this study. In addition, major sources of uncertainty from model estimation include exclusion of SOC storage in wetlands and peatlands as well as C storage in deep soil layers.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [4];  [6];  [7];  [8];  [9];  [4];  [1];  [4];  [5];  [10];  [1] more »;  [4];  [11];  [4];  [1];  [12];  [4];  [1];  [1];  [13] « less
  1. Auburn Univ., AL (United States)
  2. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States)
  3. Carnegie Inst. for Science, Stanford, CA (United States)
  4. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  5. Climate and Environment Sciences Lab. (LSCE) (France)
  6. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  7. National Inst. for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba (Japan)
  8. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL (United States)
  9. Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China)
  10. Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT (United States)
  11. National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO (United States)
  12. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mountain View, CA (United States)
  13. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1224507
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-106113
Journal ID: ISSN 0886-6236; 47646; KP1702030
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 29; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 0886-6236
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory

Citation Formats

Tian, Hanqin, Lu, Chaoqun, Yang, Jia, Banger, Kamaljit, Huntzinger, Deborah N., Schwalm, Christopher R., Michalak, A. M., Cook, Robert B., Ciais, Philippe, Hayes, Daniel J., Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul K., Lei, Huimin, Mao, Jiafu, Pan, Shufen, Post, W. M., Peng, Shushi, Poulter, Benjamin, Ren, Wei, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Schaefer, Kevin, Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, Yang, Qichun, Zhang, Bowen, and Zeng, Ning. Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models. Current status and future directions. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1002/2014GB005021.
Tian, Hanqin, Lu, Chaoqun, Yang, Jia, Banger, Kamaljit, Huntzinger, Deborah N., Schwalm, Christopher R., Michalak, A. M., Cook, Robert B., Ciais, Philippe, Hayes, Daniel J., Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul K., Lei, Huimin, Mao, Jiafu, Pan, Shufen, Post, W. M., Peng, Shushi, Poulter, Benjamin, Ren, Wei, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Schaefer, Kevin, Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, Yang, Qichun, Zhang, Bowen, & Zeng, Ning. Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models. Current status and future directions. United States. doi:10.1002/2014GB005021.
Tian, Hanqin, Lu, Chaoqun, Yang, Jia, Banger, Kamaljit, Huntzinger, Deborah N., Schwalm, Christopher R., Michalak, A. M., Cook, Robert B., Ciais, Philippe, Hayes, Daniel J., Huang, Maoyi, Ito, Akihiko, Jain, Atul K., Lei, Huimin, Mao, Jiafu, Pan, Shufen, Post, W. M., Peng, Shushi, Poulter, Benjamin, Ren, Wei, Ricciuto, Daniel M., Schaefer, Kevin, Shi, Xiaoying, Tao, Bo, Wang, Weile, Wei, Yaxing, Yang, Qichun, Zhang, Bowen, and Zeng, Ning. Fri . "Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models. Current status and future directions". United States. doi:10.1002/2014GB005021.
@article{osti_1224507,
title = {Global patterns and controls of soil organic carbon dynamics as simulated by multiple terrestrial biosphere models. Current status and future directions},
author = {Tian, Hanqin and Lu, Chaoqun and Yang, Jia and Banger, Kamaljit and Huntzinger, Deborah N. and Schwalm, Christopher R. and Michalak, A. M. and Cook, Robert B. and Ciais, Philippe and Hayes, Daniel J. and Huang, Maoyi and Ito, Akihiko and Jain, Atul K. and Lei, Huimin and Mao, Jiafu and Pan, Shufen and Post, W. M. and Peng, Shushi and Poulter, Benjamin and Ren, Wei and Ricciuto, Daniel M. and Schaefer, Kevin and Shi, Xiaoying and Tao, Bo and Wang, Weile and Wei, Yaxing and Yang, Qichun and Zhang, Bowen and Zeng, Ning},
abstractNote = {Soil is the largest organic carbon (C) pool of terrestrial ecosystems, and loss from soil accounts for a large pro portion of land-atmosphere C exchange. Due to large pool size and variable residence time from years to millennia, even small changes in soil organic C(SOC) have substantial effects on the terrestrial C budget, thereby affecting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)concentration and climate change. In the past decades, a wide variety of studies have been conducted to quantify global SOC stocks and soil exchange with the atmosphere through site measurements, inventories, and empirical/process-based modeling. However, these estimates are highly uncertain and identifying major driving forces controlling soil C storage and fluxes remains a key research challenge his study has compiled century-long (1901-2010)estimates of SOC storage and heterotrophic respiration (Rh) from ten terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) in the Multi-scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project (MsTMIP) and two observation based datasets. The ten-TBM ensemble shows that global SOC estimate range from 4 to 2111 Pg C (1 Pg = 1015g) with a median value of 1158 Pg C33 in 2010. Modeling approach estimates a broad range of Rh from 35 to 69 Pg C yr-1 with a median value of 51Pg C yr-1 during 200–2010. The largest uncertainty in SOC stocks exists in the 40–65°N latitude band while Rh differences are the largest in the tropics. All the models agreed that climate and land use changes have decreased SOC stocks while elevated CO2 and atmospheric nitrogen deposition have increased SOC stocks though the response varied significantly among models. Model representations of temperature and moisture sensitivity,nutrient limitation and land use partially explain the divergent estimates of global SOC stocks and soil fluxes in this study. In addition, major sources of uncertainty from model estimation include exclusion of SOC storage in wetlands and peatlands as well as C storage in deep soil layers.},
doi = {10.1002/2014GB005021},
journal = {Global Biogeochemical Cycles},
issn = {0886-6236},
number = 6,
volume = 29,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {6}
}

Works referenced in this record:

Robustness and uncertainty in terrestrial ecosystem carbon response to CMIP5 climate change projections
journal, October 2012


Soil organic carbon fractions after 16-years of applications of fertilizers and organic manure in a Typic Rhodalfs in semi-arid tropics
journal, July 2009


Reduced growth of Alaskan white spruce in the twentieth century from temperature-induced drought stress
journal, June 2000

  • Barber, Valerie A.; Juday, Glenn Patrick; Finney, Bruce P.
  • Nature, Vol. 405, Issue 6787
  • DOI: 10.1038/35015049

Evaluating litter decomposition in earth system models with long-term litterbag experiments: an example using the Community Land Model version 4 (CLM4)
journal, October 2012

  • Bonan, Gordon B.; Hartman, Melannie D.; Parton, William J.
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 19, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12031

Global covariation of carbon turnover times with climate in terrestrial ecosystems
journal, September 2014

  • Carvalhais, Nuno; Forkel, Matthias; Khomik, Myroslava
  • Nature, Vol. 514, Issue 7521
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature13731

The impact of lateral carbon fluxes on the European carbon balance
journal, January 2008


Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change
journal, March 2006


Carbon dynamics in the Amazonian Basin: Integration of eddy covariance and ecophysiological data with a land surface model
journal, December 2013


Response of microbial decomposition to spin-up explains CMIP5 soil carbon range until 2100
journal, January 2014

  • Exbrayat, J. -F.; Pitman, A. J.; Abramowitz, G.
  • Geoscientific Model Development Discussions, Vol. 7, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmdd-7-3481-2014

Climate–Carbon Cycle Feedback Analysis: Results from the C 4 MIP Model Intercomparison
journal, July 2006

  • Friedlingstein, P.; Cox, P.; Betts, R.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 19, Issue 14
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI3800.1

Uncertainties in CMIP5 Climate Projections due to Carbon Cycle Feedbacks
journal, January 2014

  • Friedlingstein, Pierre; Meinshausen, Malte; Arora, Vivek K.
  • Journal of Climate, Vol. 27, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00579.1

Carbon residence time dominates uncertainty in terrestrial vegetation responses to future climate and atmospheric CO 2
journal, December 2013

  • Friend, Andrew D.; Lucht, Wolfgang; Rademacher, Tim T.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222477110

Evidence that decomposition rates of organic carbon in mineral soil do not vary with temperature
journal, April 2000

  • Giardina, Christian P.; Ryan, Michael G.
  • Nature, Vol. 404, Issue 6780
  • DOI: 10.1038/35009076

Nutrient limitation reduces land carbon uptake in simulations with a model of combined carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling
journal, January 2012


Soil carbon stocks and land use change: a meta analysis
journal, April 2002


The role of fire in the boreal carbon budget
journal, December 2000


Annual fluxes of carbon from deforestation and regrowth in the Brazilian Amazon
journal, January 2000

  • Houghton, R. A.; Skole, D. L.; Nobre, Carlos A.
  • Nature, Vol. 403, Issue 6767
  • DOI: 10.1038/35002062

Carbon emissions from land use and land-cover change
journal, January 2012


The North American Carbon Program Multi-Scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project – Part 1: Overview and experimental design
journal, January 2013

  • Huntzinger, D. N.; Schwalm, C.; Michalak, A. M.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 6, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-6-2121-2013

Nitrogen attenuation of terrestrial carbon cycle response to global environmental factors: NITROGEN ATTENUATION OF CARBON CYCLE
journal, December 2009

  • Jain, Atul; Yang, Xiaojuan; Kheshgi, Haroon
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 23, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1029/2009GB003519

The Vertical Distribution of soil Organic Carbon and its Relation to Climate and Vegetation
journal, April 2000


Carbon cycling in soil
journal, December 2004


Quantitative aspects of heterogeneity in soil organic matter dynamics in a cool-temperate Japanese beech forest: a radiocarbon-based approach
journal, March 2009


Permafrost carbon-climate feedbacks accelerate global warming
journal, August 2011

  • Koven, C. D.; Ringeval, B.; Friedlingstein, P.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 108, Issue 36
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1103910108

A dynamic global vegetation model for studies of the coupled atmosphere-biosphere system: DVGM FOR COUPLED CLIMATE STUDIES
journal, February 2005

  • Krinner, G.; Viovy, Nicolas; de Noblet-Ducoudré, Nathalie
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 19, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1029/2003GB002199

Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security
journal, June 2004


Sensitivity of global terrestrial gross primary production to hydrologic states simulated by the Community Land Model using two runoff parameterizations
journal, August 2014

  • Lei, Huimin; Huang, Maoyi; Leung, L. Ruby
  • Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol. 6, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013MS000252

The Community Land Model underestimates land-use CO 2 emissions by neglecting soil disturbance from cultivation
journal, January 2014

  • Levis, S.; Hartman, M. D.; Bonan, G. B.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 7, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-7-613-2014

Remote Sensing Evaluation of CLM4 GPP for the Period 2000–09
journal, August 2012


Does conversion of forest to agricultural land change soil carbon and nitrogen? a review of the literature
journal, February 2002


Global and regional importance of the tropical peatland carbon pool: TROPICAL PEATLAND CARBON POOL
journal, January 2011


Analysis of Factors Controlling Soil Organic Matter Levels in Great Plains Grasslands1
journal, January 1987


Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential
journal, March 2000


Historical variations in terrestrial biospheric carbon storage
journal, March 1997

  • Post, Wilfred M.; King, Anthony W.; Wullschleger, Stan D.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 11, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1029/96GB03942

Anthropogenic perturbation of the carbon fluxes from land to ocean
journal, June 2013

  • Regnier, Pierre; Friedlingstein, Pierre; Ciais, Philippe
  • Nature Geoscience, Vol. 6, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1830

China's crop productivity and soil carbon storage as influenced by multifactor global change
journal, June 2012


Interpreting, measuring, and modeling soil respiration
journal, March 2005


Contribution of permafrost soils to the global carbon budget
journal, February 2013


Global soil carbon: understanding and managing the largest terrestrial carbon pool
journal, February 2014

  • Scharlemann, Jörn PW; Tanner, Edmund VJ; Hiederer, Roland
  • Carbon Management, Vol. 5, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.4155/cmt.13.77

Evaluation of ecosystem dynamics, plant geography and terrestrial carbon cycling in the LPJ dynamic global vegetation model
journal, February 2003


Soil organic carbon pools in the northern circumpolar permafrost region: SOIL ORGANIC CARBON POOLS
journal, June 2009

  • Tarnocai, C.; Canadell, J. G.; Schuur, E. A. G.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 23, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008GB003327

Modeling and measuring the effects of disturbance history and climate on carbon and water budgets in evergreen needleleaf forests
journal, December 2002


Carbon-nitrogen interactions regulate climate-carbon cycle feedbacks: results from an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model
journal, January 2009


Pattern and variation of C:N:P ratios in China’s soils: a synthesis of observational data
journal, October 2009


China's terrestrial carbon balance: Contributions from multiple global change factors: MECHANISMS OF TERRESTRIAL CARBON BALANCE
journal, March 2011

  • Tian, Hanqin; Melillo, Jerry; Lu, Chaoqun
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 25, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1029/2010GB003838

Century-Scale Responses of Ecosystem Carbon Storage and Flux to Multiple Environmental Changes in the Southern United States
journal, April 2012


Causes of variation in soil carbon simulations from CMIP5 Earth system models and comparison with observations
journal, January 2013

  • Todd-Brown, K. E. O.; Randerson, J. T.; Post, W. M.
  • Biogeosciences, Vol. 10, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-1717-2013

Global pattern of soil carbon losses due to the conversion of forests to agricultural land
journal, February 2014

  • Wei, Xiaorong; Shao, Mingan; Gale, William
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 4, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/srep04062

The North American Carbon Program Multi-scale Synthesis and Terrestrial Model Intercomparison Project – Part 2: Environmental driver data
journal, January 2014

  • Wei, Y.; Liu, S.; Huntzinger, D. N.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 7, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-7-2875-2014

Evaluating soil biogeochemistry parameterizations in Earth system models with observations: Soil Biogeochemistry in ESMs
journal, March 2014

  • Wieder, William R.; Boehnert, Jennifer; Bonan, Gordon B.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 28, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013GB004665

Recent climate warming forces contrasting growth responses of white spruce at treeline in Alaska through temperature thresholds
journal, October 2004


Carbon–nitrogen interactions on land at global scales: current understanding in modelling climate biosphere feedbacks
journal, October 2011


Effects of parameter uncertainties on the modeling of terrestrial biosphere dynamics: PARAMETER-BASED UNCERTAINTY OF A DGVM
journal, September 2005

  • Zaehle, S.; Sitch, S.; Smith, B.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 19, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1029/2004GB002395

Terrestrial mechanisms of interannual CO 2 variability : INTERANNUAL CO
journal, March 2005

  • Zeng, N.; Mariotti, A.; Wetzel, P.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 19, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1029/2004GB002273

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Data-mining analysis of the global distribution of soil carbon in observational databases and Earth system models
    journal, January 2017

    • Hashimoto, Shoji; Nanko, Kazuki; Ťupek, Boris
    • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 10, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-10-1321-2017

    Unexpectedly large impact of forest management and grazing on global vegetation biomass
    journal, December 2017

    • Erb, Karl-Heinz; Kastner, Thomas; Plutzar, Christoph
    • Nature, Vol. 553, Issue 7686
    • DOI: 10.1038/nature25138

    The Understanding of Scalar Implicatures in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Dichotomized Responses to Violations of Informativeness
    journal, July 2018


    Stable isotopic constraints on global soil organic carbon turnover
    journal, January 2018


    Coupling the Canadian Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (CTEM v. 2.0) to Environment and Climate Change Canada's greenhouse gas forecast model (v.107-glb)
    journal, January 2018

    • Badawy, Bakr; Polavarapu, Saroja; Jones, Dylan B. A.
    • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 11, Issue 2
    • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-11-631-2018