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Title: Multiple models and experiments underscore large uncertainty in soil carbon dynamics

Abstract

Soils contain more carbon than plants or the atmosphere, and sensitivities of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks to changing climate and plant productivity are a major uncertainty in global carbon cycle projections. Despite a consensus that microbial degradation and mineral stabilization processes control SOC cycling, no systematic synthesis of long-term warming and litter addition experiments has been used to test process-based microbe-mineral SOC models. We explored SOC responses to warming and increased carbon inputs using a synthesis of 147 field manipulation experiments and five SOC models with different representations of microbial and mineral processes. Model projections diverged but encompassed a similar range of variability as the experimental results. Experimental measurements were insufficient to eliminate or validate individual model outcomes. While all models projected that CO 2 efflux would increase and SOC stocks would decline under warming, nearly one-third of experiments observed decreases in CO 2 flux and nearly half of experiments observed increases in SOC stocks under warming. Long-term measurements of C inputs to soil and their changes under warming are needed to reconcile modeled and observed patterns. Measurements separating the responses of mineral-protected and unprotected SOC fractions in manipulation experiments are needed to address key uncertainties in microbial degradationmore » and mineral stabilization mechanisms. As a result, integrating models with experimental design will allow targeting of these uncertainties and help to reconcile divergence among models to produce more confident projections of SOC responses to global changes.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [8]; ORCiD logo [9];  [10];  [11];  [12]; ORCiD logo [13];  [14];  [3];  [15];  [16];  [3];  [17]
  1. Princeton Univ., Princeton, NJ (United States); Univ. of California, Merced, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH (United States); Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  4. Boston Univ., Boston, MA (United States)
  5. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  6. Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States); Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  7. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
  8. Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States); National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  9. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States)
  10. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States); Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  11. Yale Univ., New Haven, CT (United States)
  12. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States)
  13. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  14. Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH (United States)
  15. Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN (United States)
  16. Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA (United States)
  17. Univ. of Vermont, Burlington, VT (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1504006
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Biogeochemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 141; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 0168-2563
Publisher:
Springer
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; Soil organic carbon; Warming; Modeling; Meta-analysis; Litter addition; Decomposition

Citation Formats

Sulman, Benjamin N., Moore, Jessica A. M., Abramoff, Rose, Averill, Colin, Kivlin, Stephanie, Georgiou, Katerina, Sridhar, Bhavya, Hartman, Melannie D., Wang, Gangsheng, Wieder, William R., Bradford, Mark A., Luo, Yiqi, Mayes, Melanie A., Morrison, Eric, Riley, William J., Salazar, Alejandro, Schimel, Joshua P., Tang, Jinyun, and Classen, Aimée T. Multiple models and experiments underscore large uncertainty in soil carbon dynamics. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1007/s10533-018-0509-z.
Sulman, Benjamin N., Moore, Jessica A. M., Abramoff, Rose, Averill, Colin, Kivlin, Stephanie, Georgiou, Katerina, Sridhar, Bhavya, Hartman, Melannie D., Wang, Gangsheng, Wieder, William R., Bradford, Mark A., Luo, Yiqi, Mayes, Melanie A., Morrison, Eric, Riley, William J., Salazar, Alejandro, Schimel, Joshua P., Tang, Jinyun, & Classen, Aimée T. Multiple models and experiments underscore large uncertainty in soil carbon dynamics. United States. doi:10.1007/s10533-018-0509-z.
Sulman, Benjamin N., Moore, Jessica A. M., Abramoff, Rose, Averill, Colin, Kivlin, Stephanie, Georgiou, Katerina, Sridhar, Bhavya, Hartman, Melannie D., Wang, Gangsheng, Wieder, William R., Bradford, Mark A., Luo, Yiqi, Mayes, Melanie A., Morrison, Eric, Riley, William J., Salazar, Alejandro, Schimel, Joshua P., Tang, Jinyun, and Classen, Aimée T. Thu . "Multiple models and experiments underscore large uncertainty in soil carbon dynamics". United States. doi:10.1007/s10533-018-0509-z.
@article{osti_1504006,
title = {Multiple models and experiments underscore large uncertainty in soil carbon dynamics},
author = {Sulman, Benjamin N. and Moore, Jessica A. M. and Abramoff, Rose and Averill, Colin and Kivlin, Stephanie and Georgiou, Katerina and Sridhar, Bhavya and Hartman, Melannie D. and Wang, Gangsheng and Wieder, William R. and Bradford, Mark A. and Luo, Yiqi and Mayes, Melanie A. and Morrison, Eric and Riley, William J. and Salazar, Alejandro and Schimel, Joshua P. and Tang, Jinyun and Classen, Aimée T.},
abstractNote = {Soils contain more carbon than plants or the atmosphere, and sensitivities of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks to changing climate and plant productivity are a major uncertainty in global carbon cycle projections. Despite a consensus that microbial degradation and mineral stabilization processes control SOC cycling, no systematic synthesis of long-term warming and litter addition experiments has been used to test process-based microbe-mineral SOC models. We explored SOC responses to warming and increased carbon inputs using a synthesis of 147 field manipulation experiments and five SOC models with different representations of microbial and mineral processes. Model projections diverged but encompassed a similar range of variability as the experimental results. Experimental measurements were insufficient to eliminate or validate individual model outcomes. While all models projected that CO2 efflux would increase and SOC stocks would decline under warming, nearly one-third of experiments observed decreases in CO2 flux and nearly half of experiments observed increases in SOC stocks under warming. Long-term measurements of C inputs to soil and their changes under warming are needed to reconcile modeled and observed patterns. Measurements separating the responses of mineral-protected and unprotected SOC fractions in manipulation experiments are needed to address key uncertainties in microbial degradation and mineral stabilization mechanisms. As a result, integrating models with experimental design will allow targeting of these uncertainties and help to reconcile divergence among models to produce more confident projections of SOC responses to global changes.},
doi = {10.1007/s10533-018-0509-z},
journal = {Biogeochemistry},
issn = {0168-2563},
number = 2,
volume = 141,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

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