31 May 2022
31 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Improved representation of phosphorus exchange on soil mineral surfaces reduces estimates of P limitation in temperate forest ecosystems

Lin Yu1,2, Silvia Caldararu2, Bernhard Ahrens2, Thomas Wutzler2, Marion Schrumpf2,3, Julian Helfenstein4, Chiara Pistocchi5, and Sönke Zaehle4 Lin Yu et al.
  • 1Centre for Environmental and Climate Science, Lund University, Sölvegatan 37223 62 Lund, Sweden
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knoell-Str. 10, Jena, 07745, Germany
  • 3International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Jena, 07745, Germany
  • 4Agroscope, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 5Eco&Sols, Institut Agro, CIRAD, INRA, IRD, Place Viala 34060 Montpellier cedex 2, France

Abstract. Phosphorus (P) availability affects the response of terrestrial ecosystems to environmental and climate change (e.g. elevated CO2), yet the magnitude of this effect remains uncertain. This uncertainty arises mainly from a lack of quantitative understanding of the soil biological and geochemical P cycling processes, particularly the P exchange with soil mineral surfaces, which is often described by a Langmuir sorption isotherm. We first conducted a literature review on P sorption experiments and terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) using Langmuir isotherm.

We then developed a new algorithm to describe the inorganic P exchange between soil solution and soil matrix based on the double-surface Langmuir isotherm and extracted empirical equations to calculate the sorption capacity and Langmuir coefficient. We finally tested the conventional and new models of P sorption at five beech forest sites in Germany along a soil P stock gradient using the QUINCY (QUantifying Interactions between terrestrial Nutrient CYcles and the climate system) TBM.

We found that the conventional (single-surface) Langmuir isotherm approach in most TBMs largely differed from P sorption experiments regarding the sorption capacities and Langmuir coefficients, and simulated a too low soil P buffering capacity. Conversely, the double-surface Langmuir isotherm approach adequately reproduced the observed patterns of soil inorganic P pools. The better representation of inorganic P cycling using the double Langmuir approach also improved simulated foliar N and P concentrations, and the patterns of gross primary production and vegetation carbon across the soil P gradient. The novel model generally reduces the estimates of P limitation compared to the conventional model, particularly at the low-P site, as the model constraint of slow inorganic P exchange on plant productivity is reduced.

Lin Yu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2022-114', Hongxing He, 22 Jun 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Lin Yu, 11 Jul 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2022-114', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Jun 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Lin Yu, 11 Jul 2022

Lin Yu et al.


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Short summary
In this study, we addressed a key weakness in current ecosystem models regarding the phosphorus exchange in the soil and developed a new scheme to describe this process. We showed that the new scheme improved the model performances of plant productivity, soil organic carbon, and soil phosphorus contents at five beech forest sites in Germany. We claim that this new model could be used as a better tool to study ecosystems under future climate change, particularly the phosphorus-limited ones.