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  1. Abstract

    Soil organic matter decomposition and its interactions with climate depend on whether the organic matter is associated with soil minerals. However, data limitations have hindered global-scale analyses of mineral-associated and particulate soil organic carbon pools and their benchmarking in Earth system models used to estimate carbon cycle–climate feedbacks. Here we analyse observationally derived global estimates of soil carbon pools to quantify their relative proportions and compute their climatological temperature sensitivities as the decline in carbon with increasing temperature. We find that the climatological temperature sensitivity of particulate carbon is on average 28% higher than that of mineral-associated carbon, and up to 53% higher in cool climates. Moreover, the distribution of carbon between these underlying soil carbon pools drives the emergent climatological temperature sensitivity of bulk soil carbon stocks. However, global models vary widely in their predictions of soil carbon pool distributions. We show that the global proportion of model pools that are conceptually similar to mineral-protected carbon ranges from 16 to 85% across Earth system models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 and offline land models, with implications for bulk soil carbon ages and ecosystem responsiveness. To improve projections of carbon cycle–climate feedbacks, it is imperative to assess underlying soil carbon pools to accurately predict the distribution and vulnerability of soil carbon.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Climatic drying is predicted for many tropical forests yet models remain poorly parameterized for these ecosystems, hampering predictions of forest‐climate interactions. We applied an integrated model–experiment approach, parameterizing an ecosystem model with tropical forest observational data and comparing model predictions to a field drying manipulation. We hypothesized that drying suppresses soil CO2fluxes (i.e., respiration) in relatively dry tropical forests but increases CO2fluxes in wetter tropical forests by alleviating anaerobiosis. We measured soil CO2fluxes during wet‐dry cycles from 2015 to 2022 in four Panamanian forests that vary in rainfall and soil fertility. Measured soil CO2fluxes declined in the dry season and peaked in the early wet season ahead of peak soil moisture, resulting in lower soil moisture optima for respiration than previously modeled. We then parameterized the model using field data and the new moisture‐respiration response functions. The updated model predicted increased soil CO2fluxes with drying in wetter and fertile forests and suppressed fluxes in drier, infertile forests. In contrast to model predictions, a chronic throughfall exclusion experiment initially suppressed soil respiration across forests, with sustained suppression for four years in the wettest forest only (−28% ± 4% during the dry season). In the fertile forest, drying eventually elevated CO2fluxes over this period (+75% ± 28% during the late wet season). The unexpected negative drying effect in the wettest, infertile forest could have resulted from reduced vertical flushing of nutrients into soils. Including hydro‐nutrient interactions in ecosystem models could improve predictions of tropical forest‐climate feedbacks.

     
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  3. null (Ed.)
  4. Abstract

    The storage and cycling of soil organic carbon (SOC) are governed by multiple co-varying factors, including climate, plant productivity, edaphic properties, and disturbance history. Yet, it remains unclear which of these factors are the dominant predictors of observed SOC stocks, globally and within biomes, and how the role of these predictors varies between observations and process-based models. Here we use global observations and an ensemble of soil biogeochemical models to quantify the emergent importance of key state factors – namely, mean annual temperature, net primary productivity, and soil mineralogy – in explaining biome- to global-scale variation in SOC stocks. We use a machine-learning approach to disentangle the role of covariates and elucidate individual relationships with SOC, without imposing expected relationshipsa priori. While we observe qualitatively similar relationships between SOC and covariates in observations and models, the magnitude and degree of non-linearity vary substantially among the models and observations. Models appear to overemphasize the importance of temperature and primary productivity (especially in forests and herbaceous biomes, respectively), while observations suggest a greater relative importance of soil minerals. This mismatch is also evident globally. However, we observe agreement between observations and model outputs in select individual biomes – namely, temperate deciduous forests and grasslands, which both show stronger relationships of SOC stocks with temperature and productivity, respectively. This approach highlights biomes with the largest uncertainty and mismatch with observations for targeted model improvements. Understanding the role of dominant SOC controls, and the discrepancies between models and observations, globally and across biomes, is essential for improving and validating process representations in soil and ecosystem models for projections under novel future conditions.

     
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Data collected from research networks presentopportunities to test theories and develop models about factors responsiblefor the long-term persistence and vulnerability of soil organic matter(SOM). Synthesizing datasets collected by different research networkspresents opportunities to expand the ecological gradients and scientificbreadth of information available for inquiry. Synthesizing these data ischallenging, especially considering the legacy of soil data that havealready been collected and an expansion of new network science initiatives.To facilitate this effort, here we present the SOils DAta Harmonizationdatabase (SoDaH; https://lter.github.io/som-website, last access: 22 December 2020), a flexible database designed to harmonize diverse SOM datasets frommultiple research networks. SoDaH is built on several network scienceefforts in the United States, but the tools built for SoDaH aim to providean open-access resource to facilitate synthesis of soil carbon data.Moreover, SoDaH allows for individual locations to contribute results fromexperimental manipulations, repeated measurements from long-term studies,and local- to regional-scale gradients across ecosystems or landscapes.Finally, we also provide data visualization and analysis tools that can beused to query and analyze the aggregated database. The SoDaH v1.0 dataset isarchived and availableat https://doi.org/10.6073/pasta/9733f6b6d2ffd12bf126dc36a763e0b4 (Wieder et al., 2020). 
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  6. This SOils DAta Harmonization (SoDaH) database is designed to bring together soil carbon data from diverse research networks into a harmonized dataset that can be used for synthesis activities and model development. The research network sources for SoDaH span different biomes and climates, encompass multiple ecosystem types, and have collected data across a range of spatial, temporal, and depth gradients. The rich data sets assembled in SoDaH consist of observations from monitoring efforts and long-term ecological experiments. The SoDaH database also incorporates related environmental covariate data pertaining to climate, vegetation, soil chemistry, and soil physical properties. The data are harmonized and aggregated using open-source code that enables a scripted, repeatable approach for soil data synthesis. 
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