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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model description paper 19 Dec 2019

Submitted as: model description paper | 19 Dec 2019

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Stoichiometrically coupled carbon and nitrogen cycling in the MIcrobial-MIneral Carbon Stabilization model (MIMICS-CN)

Emily Kyker-Snowman1, William R. Wieder2,3, Serita Frey1, and A. Stuart Grandy1 Emily Kyker-Snowman et al.
  • 1Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA
  • 2Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. Explicit consideration of microbial physiology in soil biogeochemical models that represent coupled carbon-nitrogen dynamics presents opportunities to deepen understanding of ecosystem responses to environmental change. The MIcrobial-MIneral Carbon Stabilization (MIMICS) model explicitly represents microbial physiology and physicochemical stabilization of soil carbon (C) on regional and global scales. Here we present a new version of MIMICS with coupled C and nitrogen (N) cycling through litter, microbial, and soil organic matter (SOM) pools. The model was parameterized and validated against C and N data from the Long-Term Inter-site Decomposition Experiment Team (LIDET; 6 litter types, 10 years of observations, 13 sites across North America). The model simulates C and N losses from litterbags in the LIDET study with reasonable accuracy (C: R2 = 0.63, N: R2 = 0.29) results that are comparable with simulations from the DAYCENT model that implicitly represents microbial activity (C: R2 = 0.67, N: R2 = 0.30). Subsequently, we evaluated equilibrium values of stocks (total soil C and N, microbial biomass C and N, inorganic N) and microbial process rates (soil heterotrophic respiration, N mineralization) simulated by MIMICS-CN across the 13 simulated LIDET sites against published observations from other continent-wide datasets. We found that MIMICS-CN produces equilibrium values in line with measured values, showing that the model generates plausible estimates of ecosystem soil biogeochemical dynamics across continental-scale gradients. MIMICS-CN provides a platform for coupling C and N projections in a microbial-explicit model but experiments still need to identify the physiological and stoichiometric characteristics of soil microbes, especially under environmental change scenarios.

Emily Kyker-Snowman et al.

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Status: open (until 21 Feb 2020)
Status: open (until 21 Feb 2020)
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Emily Kyker-Snowman et al.

Model code and software

MIMICS-CN-for-publication v1.0 E. Kyker-Snowman, W. R. Wieder, S. Frey, and A. S. Grandy

Emily Kyker-Snowman et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Microbes drive carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) transformations in soil, and soil models have started to include explicit microbial physiology and functioning to try to reduce uncertainty in soil-climate feedbacks. Here, we add N cycling to a microbially-explicit soil C model and reproduce C and N dynamics in soil during litter decomposition across a range of sites. We discuss model-generated hypotheses about soil C and N cycling and highlight the need for landscape-scale model evaluation data.
Microbes drive carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) transformations in soil, and soil models have started...