Analysis of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in riparian soils: Model development

A. Brovelli, Jordi Batlle Aguilar, D.A. Barry

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    19 Citations (Scopus)


    The quality of riparian soils and their ability to buffer contaminant releases to aquifers and streams are connected intimately to moisture content and nutrient dynamics, in particular of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). A multi-compartment model-named the Riparian Soil Model (RSM)-was developed to help investigate the influence and importance of environmental parameters, climatic factors and management practices on soil ecosystem functioning in riparian areas. The model improves existing tools, in particular regarding its capability to simulate a wide range of temporal scales, from days to centuries, along with its ability to predict the concentration and vertical distribution of dissolved organic matter (DOM). It was found that DOM concentration controls the amount of soil organic matter (SOM) stored in the soil as well as the respiration rate. The moisture content was computed using a detailed water budget approach, assuming that within each time step all the water above field capacity drains to the layer underneath, until it becomes fully saturated. A mass balance approach was also used for nutrient transport, whereas the biogeochemical reaction network was developed as an extension of an existing C and N turnover model. Temperature changes across the soil profile were simulated analytically, assuming periodic temperature changes in the topsoil. To verify the consistency of model predictions and to illustrate its capabilities, a synthetic but realistic soil profile in a deciduous forest was simulated. Model parameters were taken from the literature, and model predictions were consistent with experimental observations for a similar scenario. Modelling results stressed the importance of environmental conditions on SOM cycling in soils. The mineral and organic C and N stocks fluctuate at different time scales in response to oscillations in climatic conditions and vegetation inputs/uptake.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)231-245
    Number of pages15
    JournalScience of The Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012


    • Ecohydrology
    • Nutrient dynamics
    • RECORD project
    • Soil organic matter
    • Soil restoration
    • Water budget


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