• Article

Estimating base cation weathering rates in the USA


Whitfield, C. J., Phelan, J. N., Buckley, J., Clark, C. M., Guthrie, S., & Lynch, J. A. (2018). Estimating base cation weathering rates in the USA: Challenges of uncertain soil mineralogy and specific surface area with applications of the PROFILE model. Water Air and Soil Pollution, 229, [61]. DOI: 10.1007/s11270-018-3691-7

The weathering release rate of base cations (BCw) from soil minerals is fundamentally important for terrestrial ecosystem growth, function, and sensitivity to acid deposition. Understanding BCw is necessary to reduce or prevent damage to acid-sensitive natural systems, in that this information is needed to both evaluate the effectiveness of existing policies, and guide establishment of further policies in the event they are required. Yet BCw is challenging to estimate. In this study, major sources of uncertainty associated with a process-based model (PROFILE) commonly used to estimate weathering rates were quantified in the context of efforts to quantify BCw for upland forest sites across the continental USA. These include uncertainty associated with parameterization of mineral content where horizon data are not available, stoichiometry of individual minerals, and specific surface area of soil and individual soil minerals. Mineral stoichiometry was not an important influence on BCw estimates (uncertainty