Interactions Between Mineral Surfaces, Substrates, Enzymes, and Microbes Result in Hysteretic Temperature Sensitivities and Microbial Carbon Use Efficiencies and Weaker Predicted Carbon-Climate Feedbacks

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 1:40 PM
William J Riley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States and Jinyun Tang, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA, United States
We hypothesize that the large observed variability in decomposition temperature sensitivity and carbon use efficiency arises from interactions between temperature, microbial biogeochemistry, and mineral surface sorptive reactions. To test this hypothesis, we developed a numerical model that integrates the Dynamic Energy Budget concept for microbial physiology, microbial trait-based community structure and competition, process-specific thermodynamically ­­based temperature sensitivity, a non-linear mineral sorption isotherm, and enzyme dynamics. We show, because mineral surfaces interact with substrates, enzymes, and microbes, both temperature sensitivity and microbial carbon use efficiency are hysteretic and highly variable. Further, by mimicking the traditional approach to interpreting soil incubation observations, we demonstrate that the conventional labile and recalcitrant substrate characterization for temperature sensitivity is flawed.

In a 4 K temperature perturbation experiment, our fully dynamic model predicted more variable but weaker carbon-climate feedbacks than did the static temperature sensitivity and carbon use efficiency model when forced with yearly, daily, and hourly variable temperatures. These results imply that current earth system models likely over-estimate the response of soil carbon stocks to global warming.