Hydrologic controls on soil carbon and nitrogen cycles. I. Modeling scheme

Amilcare Michele M. Porporato, P. D'Odorico, F. Laio, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


The influence of soil moisture dynamics on soil carbon and nitrogen cycles is analyzed by coupling an existing stochastic soil moisture model [Adv. Water Resour. 24 (7) (2001) 707; Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 455 (1999) 3789] to a system of eight nonlinear differential equations that describe the temporal evolution of the organic matter and the mineral nitrogen in the soil at the daily to seasonal time scales. Special attention is devoted to the modeling of the soil moisture control on mineralization and immobilization fuxes, leaching losses, and plant nitrogen uptake, as well as to the role played by the soil organic matter carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in determining mineralization and immobilization. The model allows a detailed analysis of the soil nitrogen cycle as driven by fluctuations in soil moisture at the daily time scale resulting from the stochastic rainfall variability. The complex ensuing dynamics are studied in detail in a companion paper [Adv. Water Resour. 26 (1) (2003) 59], which presents an application to the Nylsvley savanna in South Africa. The model accounts for the soil moisture control on different components of the nitrogen cycle on a wide range of time scales: From the high frequency variability of leaching and uptake due to the nitrate flushes after persistent rainfall following a period of drought, to the low frequency temporal dynamics of the soil organic matter pools. All the .uctuations in the various pools are statistically characterized in relation to their dependence on climate, soil, and vegetation characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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