Quantifying how much greenhouse gases are produced by soils is one of the major challenges in climate change research. Predicting soil emissions, however, is complicated by the numerous interactions between soil organisms, plants, and the soil environment – in particular its moisture content. In this project funded by the NSF, we focus on soil microorganisms, which are among the main contributors to CO2 emissions. Both the physical processes that regulate substrate availability to microorganisms, and biological processes that control how C is used and eventually released as respiration are quantified. Empirical work performed by PI Joshua Schimel at University of California Santa Barbara will inform new mathematical soil C models that link fine-scale mechanisms to larger-scale ecosystem dynamics.

Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California