Attempts to estimate the influence of erosion on the carbon (C) cycle are limited by difficulties in accounting for the fate of mobilized organic material and for the uncertainty associated with land management practices. This study proposes a method to quantify the uncertainty introduced by the influence of land management on soil organic C (SOC) generation and decomposition at eroding soils. The framework is implemented in tRIBS-ECO (Triangulated Irregular Network-based Real-time Integrated Basin Simulator-Erosion and Carbon Oxidation). tRIBS-ECO is a spatially and depth-explicit model of C dynamics coupled with a process-based hydro-geomorphic model. We assess the impact of soil erosion on the net soil-atmosphere CO2 exchange at the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory, one of the most severely agriculturally eroded regions in the U.S. Measurements of SOC storage are used from different catena positions. We demonstrate that the spatiotemporal variations of land management practices introduce significant uncertainty in estimates of the erosion-induced CO2 exchange with the atmosphere. Observations and simulations suggest that a substantial portion of eroded organic material is buried in alluvial sediments at the study site. According to results, recent reforestation led to a partial decline in soil and SOC erosion rates. It is suggested that the representation of the fine spatiotemporal variability of the dynamics of eroded C is important in the computation of C budgets in regional and global scales.
Dialynas, Y. G., R. L. Bras, and D. deB. Richter (2017): Hydro-geomorphic perturbations on the soil-atmosphere CO2 exchange: How (un)certain are our balances?. Water Resources Research, 53. DOI: 10.1002/2016WR019411
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.