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Volume 7 (2007), Pages 159-165
Short Communication

Modeling of Nitrogen Dynamics in an Austrian Alpine Forest Ecosystem on Calcareous Soils: A Scenario-Based Risk Assessment under Changing Environmental Conditions

1Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW Vienna), Vienna, Austria
2Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
3Austrian Research Centers, Seibersdorf, Austria
4University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Received 27 October 2006; Revised 30 November 2006; Accepted 30 November 2006

Academic Editor: Andrzej Bytnerowicz

Copyright © 2007 Friedl Herman et al.


We modeled the behavior of an Austrian alpine forest ecosystem on calcareous soils under changing climate and atmospheric nitrogen deposition scenarios. The change of nitrate leaching, emission rates of nitrogen compounds, and forest productivity were calculated using four process-oriented models for the periods 1998–2002 and 2048–2052. Each model reflects with high detail a segment of the ecosystem: PnET-N-DNDC (photosynthesis-evapotranspiration-nitrification-denitrification-decomposition; shortterm nitrogen cycling), BROOK90 (water balance for small and homogenous forest watersheds), HYDRUS (water flux in complex and heterogenous soils), and PICUS v1.3 (forest productivity). The nitrogen balance model (NBM) combines the individual results into a comprehensive picture and extends the specific values beyond the limits of the individual models. The evaluation of the findings was outlined with TRACE, a model enabling a long-term prognosis of nitrogen cycling in annual time steps.

Temperature increase and nitrogen input are influenced by various components and processes of the forest ecosystem. An increase of the temperature of 2.5°C led to an enhancement of the N2O emission rates and affected the mineralization and the nitrification rates with the consequence of increased nitrate leaching into the subsoil. Enhanced nitrogen input also showed notable effects on nitrate leaching.