Effects of climate change and land management on soil organic carbon dynamics and carbon leaching in northwestern Europe
- 1Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, the Netherlands
- 2National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands
- 3Unit Soil and Groundwater Systems, Deltares, Princetonlaan 6, 3584 CB Utrecht, the Netherlands
Abstract. Climate change and land management practices are projected to significantly affect soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) leaching from soils. In this modelling study, we adopted the Century model to simulate past (1906–2012), present, and future (2013–2100) SOC and DOC levels for sandy and loamy soils typical of northwestern European conditions under three land use types (forest, grassland, and arable land) and several future scenarios addressing climate change and land management change. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the Century model has been applied to assess the effects of climate change and land management on DOC concentrations and leaching rates, which, in combination with SOC, play a major role in metal transport through soil. The simulated current SOC levels were generally in line with the observed values for the different kinds of soil and land use types. The climate change scenarios result in a decrease in both SOC and DOC for the agricultural systems, whereas for the forest systems, SOC is projected to slightly increase and DOC to decrease. An analysis of the sole effects of changes in temperature and changes in precipitation showed that, for SOC, the temperature effect predominates over the precipitation effect, whereas for DOC the precipitation effect is more prominent. A reduction in the application rates of fertilisers under the land management scenario leads to a decrease in the SOC stocks and the DOC leaching rates for the arable land systems, but it has a negligible effect on SOC and DOC levels for the grassland systems. Our study demonstrated the ability of the Century model to simulate climate change and agricultural management effects on SOC dynamics and DOC leaching, providing a robust tool for the assessment of carbon sequestration and the implications for contaminant transport in soils.