Climatic Change

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 13–25

Grassland biogeochemistry: Links to atmospheric processes


  • D. S. Schimel
    • NASA Ames Research Center
  • W. J. Parton
    • Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • T. G. F. Kittel
    • Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University
  • D. S. Ojima
    • Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • C. V. Cole
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service and Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State University

DOI: 10.1007/BF00148998

Cite this article as:
Schimel, D.S., Parton, W.J., Kittel, T.G.F. et al. Climatic Change (1990) 17: 13. doi:10.1007/BF00148998


Regional modeling is an essential step in scaling plot measurements of biogeochemical cycling to global scales for use in coupled atmosphere-biosphere studies. We present a model of carbon and nitrogen biogeochemistry for the U.S. Central Grasslands region based on laboratory, field, and modeling studies. Model simulations of the geography of C and N biogeochemistry adequately fit observed data. Model results show geographic patterns of cycling rates and element storage to be a complex function of the interaction of climatic and soil properties. The model also includes regional trace gas simulation, providing a link between studies of atmospheric geochemistry and ecosystem function. The model simulates nitrogenous trace gas emission rates as a function of N turnover and indicates that they are variable across the grasslands. We studied effects of changing climate using information from a global climate model. Simulations showed that increases in temperature and associated changes in precipitation caused increases in decomposition and long-term emission of Co2 from grassland soils. Nutrient release associated with the loss of soil organic matter caused increases in net primary production, demonstrating that nutrient interactions are a major control over vegetation response to climate change.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990