Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-340
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-340
05 Mar 2024
 | 05 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Implications of climate and litter quality for simulations of litterbag decomposition at high latitudes

Elin Ristorp Aas, Inge Althuizen, Hui Tang, Sonya Geange, Eva Lieungh, Vigdis Vandvik, and Terje Koren Berntsen

Abstract. Litter decomposition is a vital part of the carbon cycle and is thoroughly studied both in the field and with models. Although temporally and spatially limited, litterbag decomposition experiments are often used to calibrate and evaluate soil models intended for use on large scales, coupled to a land model. We used the microbially explicit soil decomposition model MIMICS+ to replicate two high-latitude litterbag decomposition experiments of different spatial and temporal scales. We investigated how well the model represented observed mass loss in terms of the controlling factors climate and litter quality and their relative importance with time. In addition to default model forcing, we used measured and site-specific model-derived microclimatic variables (soil moisture and temperature), hypothesizing that this would improve model results. We found that MIMICS+ represented mass loss after three and six years well across a climatic gradient of Canadian sites, but had more variable results for one-year mass loss across a climate grid in Southern Norway. In terms of litter quality, the litter metabolic fraction was more influential on modeled mass loss than the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of the litter. Using alternative microclimate sources led to up to 25 % more mass remaining and down to 20 % less mass remaining compared to the simulations using default model input. None of the input alternatives significantly improved results compared to using the default model setup. We discuss possible causes for our findings and suggest measures to better utilize short-term field experiments to inform microbially explicit decomposition models.

Elin Ristorp Aas, Inge Althuizen, Hui Tang, Sonya Geange, Eva Lieungh, Vigdis Vandvik, and Terje Koren Berntsen

Status: open (until 16 Apr 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-340', Toni Viskari, 22 Mar 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-340', Emma Hauser, 27 Mar 2024 reply
Elin Ristorp Aas, Inge Althuizen, Hui Tang, Sonya Geange, Eva Lieungh, Vigdis Vandvik, and Terje Koren Berntsen

Data sets

Code and data for "Implications of climate and litter quality for simulations of litterbag decomposition at high latitudes" Elin Ristorp Aas https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10557583

Elin Ristorp Aas, Inge Althuizen, Hui Tang, Sonya Geange, Eva Lieungh, Vigdis Vandvik, and Terje Koren Berntsen

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Short summary
We used a soil model to replicate two litterbag decomposition experiments to examine the implications of climate, litter quality, and soil microclimate representation. We found that macroclimate was more important than litter quality for modeled mass loss. By comparing different representations of soil temperature and moisture we found that using observed data did not improve model results. We discuss causes for this and suggest possible improvements to both model and experimental design.