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21st‐century biogeochemical modeling: Challenges for Century‐based models and where do we go from here?

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Journal Name
GCB Bioenergy
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21st century modeling of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from bioenergy crops is necessary to quantify the extent to which bioenergy production can mitigate climate change. For over 30 years, the biogeochemical model Century has provided the preeminent framework for belowground carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystem and earth system models. While Century has advanced our ability to predict the sustainability of bioenergy crop production, new advances in feedstock generation and our empirical understanding of sources and sinks of GHGs in soils call for a re-visitation of Century’s core model structures. Here, we evaluate current challenges with modeling soil carbon dynamics, trace gas fluxes and drought and age-related impacts on bioenergy crop productivity. We propose coupling a microbial process-based soil organic carbon and nitrogen model, with the daily time-step version of Century (DayCent) to improve soil carbon dynamics. We describe recent improvements to Century for simulating unique plant structural and physiological attributes of perennial bioenergy grasses. Finally, we propose a method for using machine learning to identify key parameters for simulating N2O emissions. Our efforts are focused on meeting the needs for modeling bioenergy crops, however, many updates reviewed and suggested to Century will be more broadly applicable to other systems.
Key words: Bioenergy, biogeochemical modeling, drought, N2O, plant age dynamics, soil