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Open-File Report 00-508

Parameterizing Century to Model Cultivated and Noncultivated Sites in the Loess Region of Western Iowa

By Kristen L. Manies, Jennifer W. Harden, Larry Kramer, and William Parton

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (228 kB)Introduction

One of the main questions remaining for global science involves the cycle of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, and land. Scientists are trying to better determine the amount of carbon stored in and transferred between these three locations. This task has become more complex because in recent decades the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere has increased due to the burning of fossil fuels and land-use changes. The amount of this increase is greater than the amount of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere and oceans. Many scientists are studying different terrestrial ecosystems to find this 'missing" carbon. One such project is the Mississippi Basin Carbon Project (MBCP) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). MBCP is studying the soils and sediments of the Mississippi River Basin, with an emphasis on understanding human influences on erosion and thus the movement of carbon within a landscape.

One goal of the MBCP is to understand, at the field scale, the key processes of erosion and sedimentation, and thus the movement of carbon, in upland areas. Both field measurements and modeling efforts are being used for this purpose. On the modeling front, the Century Model is being used to describe the historical carbon dynamics for two field sites, an agricultural field and uncultivated prairie, located in the loess region of western Iowa. The objective of these modeling efforts is to recreate the carbon dynamics of the upper slope in each of these watersheds. The upper slope represents the area of a hillslope with the greatest potential erosion. This report describes how Century was parameterized to represent these two sites.

First posted February 1, 2001

For additional information, contact:
USGS Soil Biogeochemistry
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025

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Suggested citation:

Manies, Kristen L., Harden, Jennifer W., Kramer, Larry, and Parton, William, 2000, Parameterizing Century to Model Cultivated and Noncultivated Sites in the Loess Region of Western Iowa: U.S. Geological Survey open-File Report 00-508, 31 pp.,



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The Century Model

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