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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-1
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-1
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reviews and syntheses 14 Jan 2019

Reviews and syntheses | 14 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Weathering rates in Swedish forest soils

Cecilia Akselsson1, Salim Belyazid2, Johan Stendahl3, Roger Finlay4, Bengt Olsson5, Martin Erlandsson Lampa6, Håkan Wallander7, Jon Petter Gustafsson3, and Kevin Bishop8 Cecilia Akselsson et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, SE-223 62, Sweden
  • 2Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, SE-223 62, Sweden
  • 3Department of Soil and Environment Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden
  • 4Department of Forest Mycology and Plant, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden
  • 5Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden
  • 6Water authorities, Västerås, SE-721 86, Sweden
  • 7Department Biology, Lund University, Lund, SE-223 62, Sweden
  • 8Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, SE-750 07, Sweden

Abstract. Soil and water acidification was first recognised as a severe environmental problem in the 1970s. The interest in establishing critical loads led to a peak in weathering research in the 1980s, since weathering is the long-term counterbalance to acidification pressure. Assessments of weathering rates and associated uncertainties have recently become an area of renewed research interest, this time due to demand for more harvest to provide renewable bioenergy. Increased demand for forest fuels increases the risk of depleting the soils of base cations produced in situ by weathering. This is the background to the research programme Quantifying Weathering Rates for Sustainable Forestry (QWARTS), which ran from 2012 to 2019. The programme involved research groups working at different scales, from lab experiments to extensive modelling. The aims of this paper are to summarise the state of knowledge about weathering rates in Swedish forest soils at different scales, with an emphasis on the knowledge added by the QWARTS programme, to discuss the uncertainties in relation to sustainable forestry, and to highlight knowledge gaps where further research is needed. The variation at single-site level was large, but most sites could be placed reliably in broader classes of weathering rates. At regional to national level, the results from the different approaches were in general agreement. Comparisons of base cation losses after stem-only and whole-tree harvesting showed sites with clear imbalances between weathering supply and harvest losses, and other sites where variation in weathering rates from different approaches obscured the overall balance. Clear imbalances appeared mainly after whole-tree harvesting in spruce forests in southern and central Sweden. Research findings in the QWARTS programme support the continued use of the PROFILE/ForSAFE family of models, but it is important to continue comparisons between these and other approaches. Uncertainties in the model approaches can be further reduced, mainly by finding ways to reduce uncertainties in input data on soil texture and associated hydrological parameters. Another way to reduce uncertainties is by developing the models to better represent the delivery of weathering products to runoff waters and biological feedbacks under the influence of climate change.

Cecilia Akselsson et al.
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Short summary
The release of elements from soil through weathering is an important process, controlling nutrient availability for plants and recovery from acidification. However, direct measurements cannot be done, and present estimates are burdened with high uncertainties. In this paper we use different approaches to quantify weathering rates in different scales in Sweden, and discuss the pros and cons. The study contributes to more robust assessments of sustainable harvesting of forest biomass.
The release of elements from soil through weathering is an important process, controlling...
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