Impacts of Landscape Evolution on Heterotrophic Carbon Loss in Intensively Managed Landscapes

Qina Yan, Praveen Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soil respiration that releases CO2 into the atmosphere roughly balances the net primary productivity and varies widely in space and time. However, predicting its spatial variability, particularly in intensively managed landscapes, is challenging due to a lack of understanding of the roles of soil organic carbon (SOC) redistribution resulting from accelerated soil erosion. Here we simulate the heterotrophic carbon loss (HCL)—defined as microbial decomposition of SOC—with soil transport, SOC surface redistribution, and biogeochemical transformation in an agricultural field. The results show that accelerated soil erosion extends the spatial variation of the HCL, and the mechanical-mixing due to tillage further accentuates the contrast. The peak values of HCL occur in areas where soil transport rates are relatively small. Moreover, HCL has a strong correlation with the SOC redistribution rate rather than the soil transport rate. This work characterizes the roles of soil and SOC transport in restructuring the spatial variability of HCL at high spatio-temporal resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number666278
JournalFrontiers in Water
StatePublished - Nov 16 2021


  • atmospheric carbon dioxide
  • heterotrophic carbon loss
  • landscape evolution
  • soil deposition
  • soil erosion
  • soil organic carbon
  • soil respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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