Scientists make a case for using soil respiration data to improve understanding and modeling of ecosystem- to global-scale carbon fluxes.
Scientists have spent decades making measurements of soil respiration (RS), the flow of carbon dioxide from the soil to the atmosphere, but only recently have started to collect and synthesize this information. A recent reviewargues that these data offer untapped potential for better understanding the larger carbon cycle and improving the performance of ecosystem- to global-scale computer models.
Soil respiration data can bring a range of benefits to model development, particularly with larger databases and improved data-sharing protocols that make RS data more robust and broadly available to the research community. These efforts can help usher in new global syntheses and spark progress in both measurement and modeling of biogeochemical cycles.
Model-data synthesis activities are increasingly important to understand the carbon and climate systems, but they only rarely have used RS data. In an invited review, Department of Energy researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and co-authors argue that overlooking RS data is a mistake and identify three major challenges in interpreting and using RS data more extensively and creatively. First, when RS is compared to ecosystem respiration measured from eddy covariance towers, it is not uncommon to find the former to be larger, which is impossible. This finding is most likely because of difficulties in calculating ecosystem respiration, which provides an opportunity to utilize RS for eddy covariance quality control. Second, RS integrates belowground heterotrophic and autotrophic activity (i.e., from plant- and animal-derived carbon), and opportunities exist to use the total RS flux for data assimilation and model benchmarking methods rather than less-certain partitioned fluxes. Finally, RS is generally measured at a different resolution than that needed for comparison to eddy covariance or ecosystem- to global-scale models. Downscaling these fluxes to match the scale of RS, and improving RS upscaling techniques, will improve resolution challenges.
Contacts (BER PM)
Dan Stover and Jared DeForest
Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
ARD acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advances in Biological Informatics. Funding for AmeriFlux data resources was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. RV acknowledges support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Ben Bond-Lamberty was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Terrestrial Ecosystem Science program. Katherine Todd-Brown was supported by the Linus Pauling Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship program, part of the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. JT was supported by NSF, University of Chicago, and MBL Lillie Research Innovation Award.
Phillips, C. L., B. Bond-Lamberty, A. R. Desai, M. Lavoie, D. Risk, J. Tang, K. Todd-Brown, and R. Vargas. 2016. “The Value of Soil Respiration Measurements for Interpreting and Modeling Terrestrial Carbon Cycling,” Plant and Soil, DOI: 10.1007/s11104-016-3084-x. (Reference link)
SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER
May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]
May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]
May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]
May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]
Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]
List all highlights (possible long download time)