Benjamin N Sulman

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Redox processes, aqueous and solid-phase chemistry, and pH dynamics are key drivers of subsurface biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial and wetland ecosystems but are typically not included in terrestrial carbon cycle models. These omissions may introduce errors when simulating systems where redox interactions and pH fluctuations are important, such as wetlands where saturation of soils can produce anoxic conditions and coastal systems where sulfate inputs from seawater can influence biogeochemistry. Integrating cycling of redox-sensitive elements could therefore allow models to better represent key elements of carbon cycling and greenhouse gas production. We describe a model framework that couples the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) Land Model (ELM) with PFLOTRAN biogeochemistry, allowing geochemical processes and redox interactions to be integrated with land surface model simulations. We implemented a reaction network including aerobic decomposition, fermentation, sulfate reduction, sulfide oxidation, and methanogenesis as well as pH dynamics along with iron oxide and iron sulfide mineral precipitation and dissolution. We simulated biogeochemical cycling in tidal wetlands subject to either saltwater or freshwater inputs driven by tidal hydrological dynamics. In simulations with saltwater tidal inputs, sulfate reduction led to accumulation of sulfide, higher dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations, lower dissolved organic carbon concentrations, and lower methane emissions than simulations with freshwater tidal inputs. Model simulations compared well with measured porewater concentrations and surface gas emissions from coastal wetlands in the Northeastern United States. These results demonstrate how simulating geochemical reaction networks can improve land surface model simulations of subsurface biogeochemistry and carbon cycling.