Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
06 February 2013

A New Reactive Transport Solver Integrated in CLM4 and CLM4.5 Allows More Mechanistic Treatment of Processes and Evaluation of Uncertainties


Recent developments in land biogeochemistry models include integrating more and more chemical species, yet we lack a generic model structure to consistently model these species and the range of biogeochemical processes in which they participate. To fill this infrastructure gap in the community earth system model (CESM), we developed the CLM4-BeTR model, a biogeochemical transport and reaction component for CLM4 (and CLM4.5), as a generic template for modeling of multi-tracer and multi-phase reactive transport.


Application of CLM4-BeTR to analyze carbon-nitrogen dynamics at the Harvard Forest site indicates CLM4-BeTR was able to accurately reproduce measured soil CO2 gas profiles. In our time series analysis of CO2 effluxes and soil respiration, we found the prevailing assumption held in the single layer biogeochemical models, that is “surface CO2 efflux equals soil respiration” did not hold at many temporal scales. The differences were larger ( 20%~20%) at hourly scales, smaller (-4%~4%) at daily scales, and persisted into monthly scales (


We expect that these developments, and their future extensions, will help constrain uncertainty in land biogeochemical processes in CESM, and enable better mechanistic assessment of climate-land-biogeochemistry feedbacks.

Xiaohong Liu

This research was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 as part of their Regional and Global Climate Modeling Program. The authors appreciate Ms. Kathleen Savage and Dr. Eric Davidson at the Woods Hole Research Center for providing the soil CO2 profile data and soil moisture and temperature data at the Harvard Forest site.