BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

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

BER Research Highlights


Forecasting the Decomposability of Organic Matter in Warming Tundra Soils
Published: October 25, 2018
Posted: April 22, 2019

Infrared spectroscopy predicted the initial decomposition of active layer and permafrost organic matter in Arctic soils.

The Science
Calibration models derived from the mid infrared (MIR) spectra of arctic tundra soils reasonably estimated the amount of carbon dioxide released from decomposing soil organic matter during short-term laboratory incubations. Clays, phenolics, aliphatics, silicates, carboxylic acids, and amides were identified as the most influential soil components predicting the initial decomposition of tundra soil organic matter (SOM).

The Impact
The potential decomposability of soil organic matter is usually determined from soil incubations, which require a substantial investment of time and effort. Application of MIR calibration models to already collected and archived soils could enable widespread assessments of the potential decomposability of Arctic soil organic matter, which are needed to constrain and benchmark model simulations of the responses of these soils to changing environmental conditions.

Summary
Vast amounts of SOM are preserved in arctic soils due to the limiting effects of cold and wet environments on decomposer activity. With rapid high-latitude warming due to climate change, the potential decomposability of this soil organic matter needs to be assessed. A team led by Argonne National Laboratory investigated the capability of MIR spectroscopy to quickly predict the amount of organic matter mineralized to carbon dioxide during short-term incubations of arctic soils. Active layer and upper permafrost soils from four tundra sites on the North Slope of Alaska were incubated for 60 days. A partial least square regression (PLSR) model, constructed from the MIR spectra of all incubated soils, reasonably predicted the amount of carbon mineralized during the incubations. Comparing PLSR models for soil subgroups defined by soil carbon or nitrogen contents and tundra type revealed that the best predictions were obtained for soils with <10% organic carbon and <0.6% total nitrogen. Analysis of loadings and beta coefficients from the PLSR models indicated a small number of influential spectral bands, including those indicating clays, phenolics, aliphatics, silicates, carboxylic acids, and amides present in the soils. Study results suggest that MIR spectroscopy could be a useful tool for estimating the initial decomposability of tundra SOM, particularly for mineral soils and the mixed organic-mineral horizons of cryoturbated soils.

Contacts
BER Program Manager
Daniel Stover
Office of Biological and Environmental Research, SC-23.1
Daniel.Stover@science.doe.gov (301-903-0289)

Principal Investigators
Julie D. Jastrow
Argonne National Laboratory
Lemont, IL 60439
jdjastrow@anl.gov (630-252-3226)

Corresponding Author
Roser Matamala
Argonne National Laboratory
Lemont, IL 60439
matamala@anl.gov (630-252-9270)

Funding
This study was supported by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Science program (TES) under the Climate and Environmental Science Division of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357 to Argonne National Laboratory.

Publications
Matamala, R., Jastrow, J.D., Calderón, F.J., Liang, C., Fan, Z., Michaelson, G.J. and Ping, C.L. “Predicting the decomposability of arctic tundra soil organic matter with mid infrared spectroscopy.” Soil Biology and Biochemistry 129, 1–12 (2019). [DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.10.014].

Related Links
Paper
SFA website

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)