Probabilistic modeling of nitrogen and carbon dynamics in water-limited ecosystems

Paolo D'Odorico, Amilcare Porporato, Francesco Laio, Luca Ridolfi, Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The nitrogen and carbon dynamics of water-limited ecosystems are significantly controlled by the soil water content, which in turn depends on soil properties, climate, and vegetation characteristics. Because of its impact on soil aeration, microorganism environmental stress, and ion transport within the pore spaces, the soil water content controls the activity of microbial biomass with important effects on the rates of decomposition, mineralization, nitrification, and denitrification. Mineral nitrogen is mainly lost in the leaching and plant uptake processes, which are both controlled by the soil water content. To assess both the long-term and the short-term impact of soil moisture dynamics on the soil nitrogen and carbon budgets, models of the N and C cycles need to operate at daily resolutions (or higher). On the other hand, long-term projections require a stochastic modeling of the climate forcing to generate long replicates of the climate signal as well as to assess the system response to climate change. This paper reviews a modeling framework developed by the authors [Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 455 (1999a) 3789; Adv. Water. Res. 26 (2003) 45; Adv. Water Resour. 26 (2003) 59; Sci. J. 5 (2003) 781] for the process-based analysis of soil moisture, nitrogen, and carbon dynamics, presenting a synthesis of the main results of those investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 25 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology


  • Carbon
  • Ecosystem
  • Nitrogen
  • Soil


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