Bayesian calibration as a tool for initialising the carbon pools of dynamic soil models

Jagadeesh B. Yeluripati, Marcel van Oijen, Martin Wattenbach, A. Neftel, A. Ammann, W. J. Parton, Pete Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


The most widely applied soil carbon models partition the soil organic carbon into two or more kinetically defined conceptual pools. The initial distribution of soil organic matter between these pools influences the simulations. Like many other soil organic carbon models, the DAYCENT model is initialised by assuming equilibrium at the beginning of the simulation. However, as we show here, the initial distribution of soil organic matter between the different pools has an appreciable influence on simulations, and the appropriate distribution is dependent on the climate and management at the site before the onset of a simulated experiment. If the soil is not in equilibrium, the only way to initialise the model is to simulate the pre-experimental period of the site. Most often, the site history, in terms of land use and land management is often poorly defined at site level, and entirely unknown at regional level. Our objective was to identify a method that can be applied to initialise a model when the soil is not in equilibrium and historic data are not available, and which quantifies the uncertainty associated with initial soil carbon distribution. We demonstrate a method that uses Bayesian calibration by means of the Accept-Reject algorithm, and use this method to calibrate the initial distribution of soil organic carbon pools against observed soil respiration measurements. It was shown that, even in short-term simulations, model initialisation can have a major influence on the simulated results. The Bayesian calibration method quantified and reduced the uncertainties in initial carbon distribution. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2579-2583
Number of pages5
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number12
Early online date11 Sept 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • grassland soils
  • organic matter
  • modelling
  • initialization
  • Bayesian calibration
  • organic-matter
  • projected changes
  • grasslands
  • nitrogen
  • simulations
  • management
  • emissions
  • N2O


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