The role of tectonic uplift, climate, and vegetation in the long-term terrestrial phosphorous cycle
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Phosphorus (P) is a crucial element for life and therefore for maintaining ecosystem productivity. Its local availability to the terrestrial biosphere results from the interaction between climate, tectonic uplift, atmospheric transport, and biotic cycling. Here we present a mathematical model that describes the terrestrial P-cycle in a simple but comprehensive way. The resulting dynamical system can be solved analytically for steady-state conditions, allowing us to test the sensitivity of the P-availability to the key parameters and processes. Given constant inputs, we find that humid ecosystems exhibit lower P availability due to higher runoff and losses, and that tectonic uplift is a fundamental constraint. In particular, we find that in humid ecosystems the biotic cycling seem essential to maintain long-term P-availability. The time-dependent P dynamics for the Franz Josef and Hawaii chronosequences show how tectonic uplift is an important constraint on ecosystem productivity, while hydroclimatic conditions control the P-losses and speed towards steady-state. The model also helps describe how, with limited uplift and atmospheric input, as in the case of the Amazon Basin, ecosystems must rely on mechanisms that enhance P-availability and retention. Our novel model has a limited number of parameters and can be easily integrated into global climate models to provide a representation of the response of the terrestrial biosphere to global change. © 2010 Author(s).
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.5194/bg-7-2025-2010
Publication InfoBuendía, C; Kleidon, A; & Porporato, A (2010). The role of tectonic uplift, climate, and vegetation in the long-term terrestrial phosphorous cycle. Biogeosciences, 7(6). pp. 2025-2038. 10.5194/bg-7-2025-2010. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/4620.
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Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Amilcare Porporato earned a Master Degree in Civil Engineering (summa cum laude) in 1992 and his Ph.D. in 1996 from Polytechnic of Turin. He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Hydraulics of the Polytechnic of Turin, and he moved to Duke University in 2003, where he is now Full Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with a secondary appointment with the Nicholas School of the Environment. In June 1996, Porporato received the Arturo Parisatti