The mathematics of mud: Scaling complexity in soil carbon models


11:45 am-12:45 pm
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PS&T- Room 202
Particle Science & Technology Bldg.
Gainesville, FL 32611


The mathematics of mud: Scaling complexity in soil carbon models
Soil carbon dynamics have been identified as one of the major uncertainties in future climate scenarios. Soil carbon models strive to describe CO2 emissions which are the result of an incredibly rich interplay between biological, chemical, hydrological, and geophysical processes. Current Earth system models show a large range (-70 Pg-C to 250 Pg-C) in the projection of soil carbon stock shift over the 21st century. Reducing model uncertainty requires both better parameterization via  model-data integration and new structural developments to better describe the underlying processes. Capturing the right level of process complexity for a given question at a specific spatial-temporal scale requires a deep understanding of the component processes and their mathematical representations. Model complexity can be reduced to enable simulation analysis or enriched to capture new understanding and measurements. Specifically, reducing the complexity of traditional soil decomposition models can: 1) isolate drivers of soil carbon projections in Earth system models, 2) be used to modify simulation results post-hoc to incorporate new processes (nutrient limitations on net primary production), and 3) parameter constraints (soil temperature response). Complimentary to this, enriching process complexity of soil carbon models linking mineralorganic interaction, chemical recalcitrance, and microbial physiology can be used to target future experiments by identifying parameter uncertainties and how these uncertainties affect the carbon cycling. In this talk we’ll be exploring soils, as they sit at the intersection of biology, chemistry, geology, hydrology, mathematics, and informatics.

Katherine Todd-Brown
Dr. Todd-Brown is a computational biogeochemist who uses mathematics and computers to understand how soil breathes. She has been a Distinguished Linus Pauling Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Lab, a United States Department of Energy laboratory in Richland, Washington (2015-2018), and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oklahoma (2014). She received her PhD from the University of California, Irvine from the Earth System Science Department. Dr. Todd-Brown also holds a Bachelor of Science from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California in Mathematics and she has worked as a software developer for bioinformatics tools at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston


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