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CR 45:179-192 (2010)  -  DOI:

Estimating changes in Scottish soil carbon stocks using ECOSSE. I. Model description and uncertainties

Jo Smith1,*, Pia Gottschalk1, Jessica Bellarby1, Stephen Chapman2, Allan Lilly2, Willie Towers2, John Bell2, Kevin Coleman3, Dali Nayak1, Mark Richards1, Jon Hillier1, Helen Flynn1, Martin Wattenbach1, Matt Aitkenhead1,2, Jagadeesh Yeluripati1, Jenny Farmer1, Ronnie Milne4, Amanda Thomson4, Chris Evans5, Andy Whitmore3, Pete Falloon6, Pete Smith1

1Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Science, University of Aberdeen, 23 St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
2Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
3Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
4Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK
5Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
6Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK

ABSTRACT: To predict the response of C-rich soils to external change, models are needed that accurately reflect the conditions of these soils. Estimation of Carbon in Organic Soils—Sequestration and Emissions (ECOSSE) is a model that allows simulations of soil C and N turnover in both mineral and organic soils using only the limited meteorological, land-use and soil data that is available at the national scale. Because it is able to function at field as well as national scales if appropriate input data are used, field-scale evaluations can be used to determine uncertainty in national simulations. Here we present an evaluation of the uncertainty expected in national-scale simulations of Scotland, using data from the National Soil Inventory of Scotland. This data set provides measurements of C change for the range of soils, climates and land-use types found across Scotland. The simulated values show a high degree of association with the measurements in both total C and change in C content of the soil. Over all sites where land-use change occurred, the average deviation between the simulated and measured values of percentage change in soil C was less than the experimental error (11% simulation error, 53% measurement error). This suggests that the uncertainty in the national-scale simulations will be ~11%. Only a small bias in the simulations was observed compared to the measured values, suggesting that a small underestimate of the change in soil C should be expected at the national scale (–4%).

KEY WORDS: Organic soils · Dynamics simulation modelling · Changes in soil C stocks · Land-use change · Uncertainty · National-scale simulations

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Cite this article as: Smith J, Gottschalk P, Bellarby J, Chapman S and others (2010) Estimating changes in Scottish soil carbon stocks using ECOSSE. I. Model description and uncertainties. Clim Res 45:179-192.

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