Microbial decomposition processes and vulnerable arctic soil organic carbon in the 21st century

Zha, Junrong; Zhuang, Qianlai

Various levels of representations of biogeochemical processes in current biogeochemistry models contribute to a large uncertainty in carbon budget quantification. Here, we present an uncertainty analysis with a process-based biogeochemistry model, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM), into which detailed microbial mechanisms were incorporated. Ensemble regional simulations with the new model (MIC-TEM) estimated that the carbon budget of the arctic ecosystems is inline-formula76.0±114.8 Pg C during the 20th century, i.e., inline-formula M2inlinescrollmathml - normal 3.1 ± normal 61.7 58pt10ptsvg-formulamathimgcc9cab399a455201d4ec6a5b0dc9e7ef bg-15-5621-2018-ie00001.svg58pt10ptbg-15-5621-2018-ie00001.png  Pg C under the RCP 2.6 scenario and inline-formula94.7±46 Pg C under the RCP 8.5 scenario during the 21st century. Positive values indicate the regional carbon sink while negative values are a source to the atmosphere. Compared to the estimates using a simpler soil decomposition algorithm in TEM, the new model estimated that the arctic terrestrial ecosystems stored 12 Pg less carbon over the 20th century, i.e., 19 and 30 Pg C less under the RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6 scenarios, respectively, during the 21st century. When soil carbon within depths of 30, 100, and 300 cm was considered as initial carbon in the 21st century simulations, the region was estimated to accumulate 65.4, 88.6, and 109.8 Pg C, respectively, under the RCP 8.5 scenario. In contrast, under the RCP 2.6 scenario, the region lost 0.7, 2.2, and 3 Pg C, respectively, to the atmosphere. We conclude that the future regional carbon budget evaluation largely depends on whether or not adequate microbial activities are represented in earth system models and on the sizes of soil carbon considered in model simulations.



Zha, Junrong / Zhuang, Qianlai: Microbial decomposition processes and vulnerable arctic soil organic carbon in the 21st century. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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