A process-oriented hydro-biogeochemical model enabling simulation of gaseous carbon and nitrogen emissions and hydrologic nitrogen losses from a subtropical catchment


Quantification of nitrogen losses and net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from catchments is essential for evaluating the sustainability of ecosystems. However, the hydrologic processes without lateral flows hinder the application of biogeochemical models to this challenging task. To solve this issue, we developed a coupled hydrological and biogeochemical model, Catchment Nutrients Management Model - DeNitrification-DeComposition Model (CNMM-DNDC), to include both vertical and lateral mass flows. By incorporating the core biogeochemical processes (including decomposition, nitrification, denitrification and fermentation) of the DNDC into the spatially distributed hydrologic framework of the CNMM, the simulation of lateral water flows and their influences on nitrogen transportation can be realized. The CNMM-DNDC was then calibrated and validated in a small subtropical catchment belonged to Yanting station with comprehensive field observations. Except for the calibration of water flows (surface runoff and leaching water) in 2005, stream discharges of water and nitrate in 2007, the model validations of soil temperature, soil moisture, crop yield, water flows in 2006 and associated nitrate loss, fluxes of methane, ammonia, nitric oxide and nitrous oxide, and stream discharges of water and nitrate in 2008 were statistically in good agreement with the observations. Meanwhile, our initial simulation of the catchment showed scientific predictions. For instance, it revealed the following: (i) dominant ammonia volatilization among the losses of nitrogenous gases (accounting for 11–21% of the applied annual fertilizer nitrogen in croplands); (ii) hotspots of nitrate leaching near the main stream; and (iii) a net GHG sink function of the catchment. These results implicate the model's promising capability of predicting ecosystem productivity, hydrologic nitrogen loads, losses of gaseous nitrogen and emissions of GHGs, which could be used to provide strategies for establishing sustainable catchments. In addition, the model's capability would be further proved by applying in other catchments with different backgrounds.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Science of the Total Environment



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