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Title: Weaker land–climate feedbacks from nutrient uptake during photosynthesis-inactive periods

Abstract

Terrestrial carbon–climate feedbacks depend on two large and opposing fluxes—soil organic matter decomposition and photosynthesis—that are tightly regulated by nutrients. Earth system models (ESMs) participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 represented nutrient dynamics poorly, rendering predictions of twenty-first century carbon–climate feedbacks highly uncertain. Here, we use a new land model to quantify the effects of observed plant nutrient uptake mechanisms missing in most other ESMs. In particular, we estimate the global role of root nutrient competition with microbes and abiotic processes during periods without photosynthesis. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake during these periods account for 45 and 43%, respectively, of annual uptake, with large latitudinal variation. Globally, night-time nutrient uptake dominates this signal. Simulations show that ignoring this plant uptake, as is done when applying an instantaneous relative demand approach, leads to large positive biases in annual nitrogen leaching (96%) and N2O emissions (44%). Furthermore, this N2O emission bias has a GWP equivalent of ~2.4 PgCO2 yr–1, which is substantial compared to the current terrestrial CO2 sink. Such large biases will lead to predictions of overly open terrestrial nutrient cycles and lower carbon sequestration capacity. Both factors imply over-prediction of positive terrestrial feedbacks with climate in current ESMs.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1563979
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Climate Change
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 1758-678X
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Riley, W. J., Zhu, Q., and Tang, J. Y. Weaker land–climate feedbacks from nutrient uptake during photosynthesis-inactive periods. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0325-4.
Riley, W. J., Zhu, Q., & Tang, J. Y. Weaker land–climate feedbacks from nutrient uptake during photosynthesis-inactive periods. United States. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0325-4.
Riley, W. J., Zhu, Q., and Tang, J. Y. Mon . "Weaker land–climate feedbacks from nutrient uptake during photosynthesis-inactive periods". United States. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0325-4. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1563979.
@article{osti_1563979,
title = {Weaker land–climate feedbacks from nutrient uptake during photosynthesis-inactive periods},
author = {Riley, W. J. and Zhu, Q. and Tang, J. Y.},
abstractNote = {Terrestrial carbon–climate feedbacks depend on two large and opposing fluxes—soil organic matter decomposition and photosynthesis—that are tightly regulated by nutrients. Earth system models (ESMs) participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 represented nutrient dynamics poorly, rendering predictions of twenty-first century carbon–climate feedbacks highly uncertain. Here, we use a new land model to quantify the effects of observed plant nutrient uptake mechanisms missing in most other ESMs. In particular, we estimate the global role of root nutrient competition with microbes and abiotic processes during periods without photosynthesis. Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake during these periods account for 45 and 43%, respectively, of annual uptake, with large latitudinal variation. Globally, night-time nutrient uptake dominates this signal. Simulations show that ignoring this plant uptake, as is done when applying an instantaneous relative demand approach, leads to large positive biases in annual nitrogen leaching (96%) and N2O emissions (44%). Furthermore, this N2O emission bias has a GWP equivalent of ~2.4 PgCO2 yr–1, which is substantial compared to the current terrestrial CO2 sink. Such large biases will lead to predictions of overly open terrestrial nutrient cycles and lower carbon sequestration capacity. Both factors imply over-prediction of positive terrestrial feedbacks with climate in current ESMs.},
doi = {10.1038/s41558-018-0325-4},
journal = {Nature Climate Change},
number = 11,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
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Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 12 works
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Figures / Tables:

Fig.1 Fig.1: ELMv1-ECA accurately represents observed short-term nutrient uptake patterns. a, Simulated diurnal cycles of NPP, nitrogen uptake and phosphorus uptake in October in the northern California grid cell (49° N and 122° E) corresponding to the observations in Schimel et al. (note the different y axis ranges). b, Observed and ELMv1-ECA simulated ratiosmore » between night-time and daytime nitrogen uptake in the same California grassland as in a (bars show means, with error bars representing s.d.). c, Observed and ELMv1-ECA simulated ratios of microbial to plant nitrogen uptake synthesized from 123 short-term isotopic tracer studies from 23 sites (the median, 25th and 75th percentiles (box edges), and upper and lower limits (bars) of distribution are shown; Supplementary Table 3).« less

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

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      Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.