U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Soil Carbon Cycle Confidence and Uncertainty
Published: November 27, 2017
Posted: January 23, 2018

Developing a testbed for global soil carbon modeling.

The Science
Soils represent the largest terrestrial carbon pool on Earth. Yet emerging theories regarding stabilization of soil organic matter remain poorly represented in global-scale models; thus, underestimating the true uncertainty associated with potential terrestrial carbon cycle - climate feedbacks.

The Impact
This work builds the capacity to test emerging ecological theories in global-scale models, informs future research needs, and affords avenues to test soil biogeochemical theory, refine model features, and accelerate advancements across scientific disciplines.

Models presented in this work are some of the first to begin explicitly considering biotic activity in global-scale biogeochemical models. By forcing them under a common land model, these results are some of the first to begin quantifying the uncertainty associated with potential soil carbon responses to changes in plant productivity, temperature, and moisture and global scales. Notably, the models made divergent projections about the fate of these soil carbon stocks over the 20th century, with models either gaining or losing over 20 Pg C globally between 1901 and 2010.

Contacts (BER PM)
Daniel Stover
Daniel.Stover@science.doe.gov (301-903-0289)

(PI Contact)
Will Wieder
University of Colorado, Boulder

This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research (BER) under award numbers: TES DE-SC0014374, BSS DE-SC0016364, Environmental Research, RUBISCO SFA. As well as support from the US Department of Agriculture NIFA 2015-67003- 23485 and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. NA14OAR4320106.

Wieder, W.R., et al. “Carbon cycle confidence and uncertainty: Exploring variation among soil biogeochemical models.” Global Change Biology (2017). [DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13979]

Related Links
Source code is available at github.com/wwieder/biogeochem_testbed_1.0.

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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