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

BER Research Highlights

Improved Approach to Calculating Soil Respiration
Published: November 24, 2008
Posted: January 27, 2009

Soil respiration is increasingly  recognized as a critical factor in the global carbon cycle.  The temperature sensitivity of soil respiration is one of the most important processes in the terrestrial carbon cycling and carbon-climate interactions. To date, it has been difficult to estimate sensitivity parameters from measurements, leading to uncertainties in coupled carbon-climate simulations.  In the November 14 edition of the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, scientists from ORNL report a new approach called the "localized ratio fitting" (LRF) which is shown to isolate and remove confounding effects and thus accurately estimate the "true" temperature sensitivity of soil respiration.  This improved calculation method suggests that a long-held assumption of seasonal variation in temperature sensitivity may be an artifact of earlier calculation methods. 

Reference:  Gu L, Hanson PJ, Post WM, Liu Q (2008) A novel approach for identifying the true temperature sensitivity from soil respiration measurements. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22, GB4009, doi:10.1029/2007GB003164 

Contact: Mike Kuperberg, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3281
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling

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


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