New Understanding of Microbial Community Processes Improves Carbon Cycle Models


Current Earth system models (ESMs) draw on soil carbon cycle models that use relatively simple representations of the biogeochemical processes performed by microbial communities. Now, investigators at the University of California, Irvine, have developed a new module for the Community Land Model (CLM) that attempts to more accurately represent the distribution of soil microbial communities and their functional processes related to carbon degradation. Projections of climate change impacts on soil carbon stocks using this module showed improved agreement with results observed during experimental studies. Developing improved models of microbial processes will generate more accurate projections of soil carbon feedbacks on climate change and reduce a source of uncertainty in current ESMs.


W. R.Wieder, G. B. Bonan, and S. D. Allison. 2013. “Global Soil Carbon Projections Are Improved by Modeling Microbial Processes,” Nature Climate Change. DOI:10.1038/NCLIMATE1951.