Publication: Soil–plant nitrogen cycling modulated carbon exchanges in a western temperate conifer forest in Canada

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Title Soil–plant nitrogen cycling modulated carbon exchanges in a western temperate conifer forest in Canada
Authors/Editors* M. Altaf Arain, Fengming Yuan, T. Andrew Black
Where published* Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
How published* Journal
Year* 2006
Volume 140
Pages 171–192
Publisher Elsevier
Keywords Nitrogen cycle; Photosynthesis; Net ecosystem productivity; Canadian Land Surface Scheme; Eddy covariance; Temperate conifer forest
Nitrogen controls, on the seasonal and inter-annual variability of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) in a western temperate conifer forest in British Columbia, Canada, were simulated by a coupled carbon and nitrogen (C&N) model. The model was developed by incorporating plant–soil nitrogen algorithms in the Carbon-Canadian Land Surface Scheme (C-CLASS). In the coupled C&N-CLASS, the maximum carboxylation rate of Rubisco (Vcmax) is determined non-linearly from the modelled leaf Rubisco-nitrogen, rather than being prescribed. Hence, variations in canopy assimilation and stomatal conductance are sensitive to leaf nitrogen status through the Rubisco enzyme. The plant–soil nitrogen cycle includes nitrogen pools from photosynthetic enzymes, leaves and roots, as well as organic and mineral reservoirs from soil, which are generated, exchanged, and lost by biological fixation, atmospheric deposition, fertilization, mineralization, nitrification, root uptake, denitrification, and leaching. Model output was compared with eddy covariance flux measurements made over a 5-year period (1998–2002). The model performed very well in simulating half-hourly and monthly mean NEP values for a range of environmental conditions observed during the 5 years. C&N-CLASS simulated NEP values were 274, 437, 354, 352 and 253 g C m2 for 1998–2002, compared to observed NEP values of 269, 360, 381, 418 and 264 g C m2, for the respective years. Compared to the default C-CLASS, the coupled C&N model showed improvements in simulating the seasonal and annual dynamics of carbon fluxes in this forest. The nitrogen transformation to soil organic forms, mineralization, plant nitrogen uptake and leaf Rubisco-nitrogen concentration patterns were strongly influenced by seasonal and annual temperature variations. In contrast, the impact of precipitation was insignificant on the overall forest nitrogen budget. The coupled C&N modelling framework will help to evaluate the impact of nitrogen cycle on terrestrial ecosystems and its feedbacks on Earth’s climate system.
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