3rd ISMC Conference ─ Advances in Modeling Soil Systems
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Are Earth system models able to reproduce the soil heterotrophic respiration fluxes?

Bertrand Guenet1, Jérémie Orliac1, Lauric Cécillon1,2, Olivier Torres3, and Laurent Bopp3
Bertrand Guenet et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Géologie, Ecole normale supérieure, CNRS, IPSL, Université PSL, 24 Rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France
  • 2Laboratoire ECODIV, Univ. Normandie, UNIROUEN, INRAE, Rouen, France
  • 3LMD-IPSL, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Université PSL, CNRS, Ecole Polytechnique, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France.

Earth system models (ESMs) are numerical representations of the Earth system aiming at representing the climate dynamic including feedbacks between climate and carbon cycle. CO2 flux due to soil respiration including heterotrophic respiration coming from the soil organic matter (SOM) microbial decomposition and autotrophic respiration coming from the roots respiration is one of the most important flux between the surface and the atmosphere. Thus, even small changes in this flux may impact drastically the climate dynamic. It is therefore essential that ESMs reliably reproduce soil respiration. Until recently, such an evaluation at global scale of the ESMs was not straightforward because of the absence of observation-derived product to evaluate heterotrophic respiration fluxes from ESMs at global scale. Recently, several gridded products were published opening a new research avenue on climate-carbon feedbacks. In this study, we used simulations from 13 ESMs performed within the sixth coupled model intercomparison project (CMIP6) and we evaluate their capacities to reproduce the heterotrophic respiration flux using three gridded observation-based products. We first evaluate the total heterotrophic respiration flux for each model as well as the spatial patterns. We observed that most of the models are able to reproduce the total heterotrophic respiration flux but the spatial analysis underlined that this was partially due to some bias compensation between regions overestimating the flux and regions underestimating the flux. To better identify the causes of the identified bias in predicting the total heterotrophic respiration flux, we analysed the residues of ESMs using linear mixed effect models and we observed that lithology and climate were the most important drivers of the ESMs residues. Our results suggest that the response of SOM microbial decomposition to soil moisture and temperature must be improved in the next ESMs generation and that the effect of lithology should be better taken into account.

How to cite: Guenet, B., Orliac, J., Cécillon, L., Torres, O., and Bopp, L.: Are Earth system models able to reproduce the soil heterotrophic respiration fluxes?, 3rd ISMC Conference ─ Advances in Modeling Soil Systems, online, 18–22 May 2021, ISMC2021-23,, 2021.