Climate Change and...
- Climate Variability
- Climate Models
Effects of Climate Change
Soils and Land Use
Alpert, P., Niyogi, D., Pielke, Sr., R.A., Eastman, J.L., Xue, Y.K., Raman, S. (2006). Evidence for carbon dioxide and moisture interactions from the leaf cell up to global scales: Perspective on human-caused climate change. Global and Planetary Change 54 (1-2): 202-208
ABSTRACT: It is of utmost interest to further understand the mechanisms behind the potential interactions or synergies between the greenhouse gases (GHG) forcing(s), particularly as represented by CO2 , and water processes and through different climatic scales down to the leaf scale. Toward this goal, the factor separation methodology introduced by Stein and Alpert [Stein U. and Alpert, P. 1993. Factor separation in numerical simulations, J. Atmos. Sci., 50, 2107–2115.] that allows an explicit separation of atmospheric synergies among different factors, is employed. Three independent experiments carried out recently by the present authors, are reported here, all strongly suggest the existence of a significant CO2 –water synergy in all the involved scales. The experiments employed a very wide range of up-to-date atmospheric models that complement the physics currently introduced in most Global Circulation Models (GCMs) for global climate change prediction.
Three modeling experiments that go from the small/micro scale (leaf scale and soil moisture) to mesoscale (land-use change and CO2 effects ) and to global scale (greenhouse gases and cloudiness) all show that synergies between water and CO2 are essential in predicting carbon assimilation, minimum daily temperature and the global Earth temperature, respectively. The study also highlights the importance of including the physics associated with carbon–water synergy which is mostly unresolved in global climate models suggesting that significant carbon–water interactions are not incorporated or at least well parameterized in current climate models. Hence, there is a need for integrative climate models. As shown in earlier studies, the climate involves physical, chemical and biological processes. To only include a subset of these processes limits the skill of local, regional and global models to simulate the real climate system.
In addition, our results provide explicit determination of the direct and the interactive effect of the CO2 response on the terrestrial biosphere response. There is also an implicit scale interactive effect that can be deduced from the multiscale effects discussed in the three examples. Processes at each scale-leaf, regional and global will all synergistically contribute to increase the feedbacks — which can decrease or increase the overall system's uncertainty depending on specific case/setup and needs to be examined in future coupled, multiscale studies.
Bauer, J., Herbst, M., Huisman, J.A., Weihermuller, L., Vereecken, H. (2008). Sensitivity of simulated soil heterotrophic respiration to temperature and moisture reduction functions. Geoderma 145 (1-2): 17-27
ABSTRACT: In this study, the influence of different soil temperature and moisture reduction functions for scaling decomposition rates of soil organic matter on the prediction of CO2 production and fluxes was analysed. For this purpose, soil temperature and moisture reduction functions of six soil carbon decomposition models (CANDY, CENTURY, DAISY, PATCIS, ROTHC, and SOILCO2) were implemented in the modified SOILCO2-ROTHC model. As a test scenario, a respiration experiment on a silt loam in Columbia (USA) was chosen, which consists of two periods both including soil respiration measurements in a wheat stand and a subsequent bare soil period. Additionally, the dataset contains measured soil temperature, soil moisture as well as CO2 concentrations within the soil profile. The cumulative CO2 fluxes simulated with different temperature reduction functions showed deviations up to 41% (1.77 t C ha−1 ) for the six-month simulation period in 1981. The influence of moisture reduction was smaller with deviations up to 2% (0.10 t C ha−1 ). A combination of corresponding temperature and moisture reduction functions resulted in the highest deviations up to 41% (1.80 t C ha−1 ). Under field conditions the sensitivity towards soil temperature reduction was 6 to 7 times higher compared to soil moisture reduction. The findings of this study show that the choice of soil temperature and soil moisture reduction functions is a crucial factor for a reliable simulation of carbon turnover.
Bedard-Haughn, A., Jongbloed, F., Akkerman, J., Uijl, A., de Jong, E., Yates, T., Pennock, D. (2006). The effects of erosional and management history on soil organic carbon stores in ephemeral wetlands of hummocky agricultural landscapes. Geoderma 135: 296-306
ABSTRACT: Carbon sequestration by agricultural soils has been widely promoted as a means of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. In many regions agricultural fields are just one component of a complex landscape matrix and understanding the interactions between agricultural fields and other landscape components such as wetlands is crucial for comprehensive, whole-landscape accounting of soil organic carbon (SOC) change. Our objective was to assess the effects of management and erosional history on SOC storage in wetlands of a typical hummocky agricultural landscape in southern Saskatchewan. Wetlands were classed into three land management groups: native wetlands (i.e., within a native landscape), and uncultivated and cultivated wetlands within an agricultural landscape. Detailed topographic surveys were used to develop a digital elevation model of the sites and landform segmentation algorithms were used to delineate the topographic data into landform elements. SOC density to 45 cm was assessed at seven uncultivated wetlands, seven cultivated wetlands, and twelve native wetlands. Mean SOC density decreased from 175.1 mg ha−1 to 30 cm (equivalent mass depth) for the native wetlands to 168.6 mg ha−1 for the uncultivated wetlands and 87.2 mg ha−1 for the cultivated wetlands in the agricultural field. The SOC density of sediment depositional fans in the uncultivated wetlands is high but the total SOC stored in the fans is low due to their small area. The uncultivated wetlands occupy only 11% of the site but account for approximately 23% of SOC stores. Re-establishing permanent vegetation in the cultivated wetlands could provide maximum C sequestration with minimum energy inputs and a minimum loss of productive acreage but the overall consequences for the gas emissions would have to be carefully assessed.
ABSTRACT: In natural ecosystems, soil organic carbon (C) is derived almost exclusively from the residues of plants growing in situ. In agroecosystems, it has at least two origins: one is the remains from the previous native vegetation, and the other is the remains of the crop and the decomposition of its residues. Where vegetation has changed from plants with the C3 photosynthetic pathway to C4 pathway or vice versa, changes in the natural abundance of13 C in soil organic matter (SOM) over time can be used to identify sources of organic C in soil and to determine the turnover rate of SOM. For example, large areas of C3 tropical forest have been replaced with C4 pasture or cropland. Changes in theδ13 C values of soil organic C in these areas reflect soil organic matter turnover rate, and provide insight regarding the functional role of tropical ecosystems in the global C cycle. This paper illustrates how the stable isotope13 C can be used to estimate SOM turnover rates and the sensitivity of different models and different model parameters, using a chronosequence of forest and pastures of different ages from the Brazilian Amazon. A single-compartment exponential decay model and a two-compartment model in which SOM was divided into stable and labile components yielded similar estimates of soil C turnover time at the surface but divergent estimates at depth. The one-compartment model gave the least variable estimates of model parameters and turnover times and was also relatively insensitive to individual C stocks in single pastures of a particular age. Estimates of soil stable and labile C pools obtained using changes in forest soil δ13 C with depth differed from estimates obtained using the chronosequence. This suggests that upon burning and pasture creation, a portion of the previously stable soil C pool is rendered less stable. Model r2 was a poor criterion for selecting an appropriate soil C turnover model to apply to chronosequence data. In the absence of substantial justification for segregating SOM into different compartments based on lability, modeling should be done with the simplest models possible.
ABSTRACT: These tables present current and historical area estimates of land use, land use change, forest management, and natural disturbance for forest lands of the U.S. We reconstruct portions of the history of U.S. forests of the 20th century using readily available and sometimes obscure public information collected by the U.S. Government, principally the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. Much of the information is highly aggregated from large electronic data bases containing detailed records for recent decades, and some is summarized from printed tables of information contained in hundreds of government reports from earlier decades. The quality, consistency, and available detail of the information decrease back through time.
Where possible we follow the definitions published in Smith et al. (2001), also available on the internet at http://fia.fs.fed.us/. When combining data from different sources, we use a term “land use/land cover” to acknowledge that the available data sets are themselves based on somewhat inconsistent definitions. Many of the definitions have changed over time. Periodically, analysts revise older data sets to be consistent with changing definitions and standards for data collection. The most recent compilation of U.S. forest statistics by Smith et al. (2001) is an excellent example of the presentation of consistent historical estimates. In other cases where possible we have adjusted historical estimates to current standards to account for methodology changes.
The USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) has conducted a comprehensive U.S. forest inventory since 1928. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) periodically estimates “land cover/use” for private lands of the U.S. in their National Resources Inventory (NRI) (Natural Resources Conservation Service 2000). The USDA Economic Research Service “Census of Agriculture” program has produced estimates of land use by State for various categories since 1945 (e.g. Daugherty 1995). Some relevant historical data are contained in a Bureau of Census compilation (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1975), while other data are available in periodic reports by Agencies or special compilations requested by Congress (for example, USDA 1928).
Errors became evident in reconciling the different sources of information because of inconsistency in definitions, independent sampling frames, uncoordinated timing of data collection, and gaps and overlaps in scope of data collection. We estimate that we are missing information on about 6 million ha of Federal nonforest land, and that there is a double counting of about 13 million ha of private forest land and rangeland. These errors amount to about 2% of the total land area of the U.S.
ABSTRACT: Our ability to estimate the changes in carbon (C) pools and fluxes due to forest conversion is hampered by a lack of comparative studies. We measured above- and belowground C pools and soil respiration flux at four forested and four pasture sites in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Above- and belowground C pools were significantly larger (P < 0.01, t-test) at forested sites relative to pasture sites. The largest differences were in aboveground live biomass, which averaged 152 Mg ha-1 C at the forested sites and 1.9 Mg ha-1 at the pasture sites. Coarse root and stump C and surface detritus were also substantially different, averaging 41.3 and 32.6 Mg ha-1 C, respectively, at the forested sites, and less than 1 Mg ha-1 at the pasture sites. Fine root C was higher and mineral soil C lower at pasture sites relative to comparable forested sites, but neither difference was statistically significant. Soil respiration at a given temperature was generally lower at pasture sites relative to forest sites. However, soil temperatures at pastures were consistently higher than at forest sites. Estimated annual soil respiration flux averaged 10.9 Mg C ha-1 at the pasture sites and 12.6 Mg C ha-1 at the forested sites.
Bondeau, A., Smith, P.C., Zaehle, S., Schaphoff, S., Lucht, W., Cramer, W., Gerten, D., Lotze-Campen, H., Müller, C., Reichstein, M., Smith, B. (2007). Modelling the role of agriculture for the 20th century global terrestrial carbon balance. Global Change Biology 13 (3): 679-706
ABSTRACT: In order to better assess the role of agriculture within the global climate-vegetation system, we present a model of the managed planetary land surface, Lund–Potsdam–Jena managed Land (LPJmL), which simulates biophysical and biogeochemical processes as well as productivity and yield of the most important crops worldwide, using a concept of crop functional types (CFTs). Based on the LPJ-Dynamic Global Vegetation Model, LPJmL simulates the transient changes in carbon and water cycles due to land use, the specific phenology and seasonal CO2 fluxes of agricultural-dominated areas, and the production of crops and grazing land. It uses 13 CFTs (11 arable crops and two managed grass types), with specific parameterizations of phenology connected to leaf area development. Carbon is allocated daily towards four carbon pools, one being the yield-bearing storage organs. Management (irrigation, treatment of residues, intercropping) can be considered in order to capture their effect on productivity, on soil organic carbon and on carbon extracted from the ecosystem. For transient simulations for the 20th century, a global historical land use data set was developed, providing the annual cover fraction of the 13 CFTs, rain-fed and/or irrigated, within 0.5° grid cells for the period 1901–2000, using published data on land use, crop distributions and irrigated areas. Several key results are compared with observations. The simulated spatial distribution of sowing dates for temperate cereals is comparable with the reported crop calendars. The simulated seasonal canopy development agrees better with satellite observations when actual cropland distribution is taken into account. Simulated yields for temperate cereals and maize compare well with FAO statistics. Monthly carbon fluxes measured at three agricultural sites also compare well with simulations. Global simulations indicate a ~24% (respectively ~10%) reduction in global vegetation (respectively soil) carbon due to agriculture, and 6–9 Pg C of yearly harvested biomass in the 1990s. In contrast to simulations of the potential natural vegetation showing the land biosphere to be an increasing carbon sink during the 20th century, LPJmL simulates a net carbon source until the 1970s (due to land use), and a small sink (mostly due to changing climate and CO2 ) after 1970. This is comparable with earlier LPJ simulations using a more simple land use scheme, and within the uncertainty range of estimates in the 1980s and 1990s. The fluxes attributed to land use change compare well with Houghton's estimates on the land use related fluxes until the 1970s, but then they begin to diverge, probably due to the different rates of deforestation considered. The simulated impacts of agriculture on the global water cycle for the 1990s are ~5% (respectively ~20%) reduction in transpiration (respectively interception), and ~44% increase in evaporation. Global runoff, which includes a simple irrigation scheme, is practically not affected.
Brown, S., Hall, M., Andrasko, K., Ruiz, F., Marzoli, W., Guerrero, G., Masera, O., Dushku, A., DeJong, B., Cornell, J. (2007). Baselines for land-use change in the tropics: application to avoided deforestation projects. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 12 (6): 1001-1026
ABSTRACT: Although forest conservation activities, particularly in the tropics, offer significant potential for mitigating carbon (C) emissions, these types of activities have faced obstacles in the policy arena caused by the difficulty in determining key elements of the project cycle, particularly the baseline. A baseline for forest conservation has two main components: the projected land-use change and the corresponding carbon stocks in applicable pools in vegetation and soil, with land-use change being the most difficult to address analytically. In this paper we focus on developing and comparing three models, ranging from relatively simple extrapolations of past trends in land use based on simple drivers such as population growth to more complex extrapolations of past trends using spatially explicit models of land-use change driven by biophysical and socioeconomic factors. The three models used for making baseline projections of tropical deforestation at the regional scale are: the Forest Area Change (FAC) model, the Land Use and Carbon Sequestration (LUCS) model, and the Geographical Modeling (GEOMOD) model. The models were used to project deforestation in six tropical regions that featured different ecological and socioeconomic conditions, population dynamics, and uses of the land: (1) northern Belize; (2) Santa Cruz State, Bolivia; (3) Paraná State, Brazil; (4) Campeche, Mexico; (5) Chiapas, Mexico; and (6) Michoacán, Mexico.
A comparison of all model outputs across all six regions shows that each model produced quite different deforestation baselines. In general, the simplest FAC model, applied at the national administrative-unit scale, projected the highest amount of forest loss (four out of six regions) and the LUCS model the least amount of loss (four out of five regions). Based on simulations of GEOMOD, we found that readily observable physical and biological factors as well as distance to areas of past disturbance were each about twice as important as either sociological/demographic or economic/infrastructure factors (less observable) in explaining empirical land-use patterns.
We propose from the lessons learned, a methodology comprised of three main steps and six tasks can be used to begin developing credible baselines. We also propose that the baselines be projected over a 10-year period because, although projections beyond 10 years are feasible, they are likely to be unrealistic for policy purposes. In the first step, an historic land-use change and deforestation estimate is made by determining the analytic domain (size of the region relative to the size of proposed project), obtaining historic data, analyzing candidate baseline drivers, and identifying three to four major drivers. In the second step, a baseline of where deforestation is likely to occur–a potential land-use change (PLUC) map—is produced using a spatial model such as GEOMOD that uses the key drivers from step one. Then rates of deforestation are projected over a 10-year baseline period based on one of the three models. Using the PLUC maps, projected rates of deforestation, and carbon stock estimates, baseline projections are developed that can be used for project GHG accounting and crediting purposes: The final step proposes that, at agreed interval (e.g., about 10 years), the baseline assumptions about baseline drivers be re-assessed. This step reviews the viability of the 10-year baseline in light of changes in one or more key baseline drivers (e.g., new roads, new communities, new protected area, etc.). The potential land-use change map and estimates of rates of deforestation could be re-done at the agreed interval, allowing the deforestation rates and changes in spatial drivers to be incorporated into a defense of the existing baseline, or the derivation of a new baseline projection.
Cerri, C.E.P., Easter, M., Paustian, K., Killian, K., Coleman, K., Bernoux, M., Falloon, P., Powlson, D.S., Batjes, N.H., Milne, E., Cerri, C.C. (2007). Predicted soil organic carbon stocks and changes in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2030. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 122 (1): 58-72
ABSTRACT: Currently we have little understanding of the impacts of land use change on soil C stocks in the Brazilian Amazon. Such information is needed to determine impacts on the global C cycle and the sustainability of agricultural systems that are replacing native forest. The aim of this study was to predict soil carbon stocks and changes in the Brazilian Amazon during the period between 2000 and 2030, using the GEFSOC soil carbon (C) modelling system. In order to do so, we devised current and future land use scenarios for the Brazilian Amazon, taking into account: (i) deforestation rates from the past three decades, (ii) census data on land use from 1940 to 2000, including the expansion and intensification of agriculture in the region, (iii) available information on management practices, primarily related to well managed pasture versus degraded pasture and conventional systems versus no-tillage systems for soybean (Glycine max) and (iv) FAO predictions on agricultural land use and land use changes for the years 2015 and 2030. The land use scenarios were integrated with spatially explicit soils data (SOTER database), climate, potential natural vegetation and land management units using the recently developed GEFSOC soil C modelling system. Results are presented in map, table and graph form for the entire Brazilian Amazon for the current situation (1990 and 2000) and the future (2015 and 2030). Results include soil organic C (SOC) stocks and SOC stock change rates estimated by three methods: (i) the Century ecosystem model, (ii) the Rothamsted C model and (iii) the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) method for assessing soil C at regional scale. In addition, we show estimated values of above and belowground biomass for native vegetation, pasture and soybean. The results on regional SOC stocks compare reasonably well with those based on mapping approaches. The GEFSOC system provided a means of efficiently handling complex interactions among biotic-edapho-climatic conditions (>363,000 combinations) in a very large area (500 Mha) such as the Brazilian Amazon. All of the methods used showed a decline in SOC stock for the period studied; Century and RothC simulated values for 2030 being about 7% lower than those in 1990. Values from Century and RothC (30,430 and 25,000 Tg for the 0–20 cm layer for the Brazilian Amazon region were higher than those obtained from the IPCC system (23,400 Tg in the 0–30 cm layer). Finally, our results can help understand the major biogeochemical cycles that influence soil fertility and help devise management strategies that enhance the sustainability of these areas and thus slow further deforestation.
Chen, H., Tian, H. Q., Liu, M. L., Melillo, J., Pan, S. F., Zhang, C. (2006). Effect of land-cover change on terrestrial carbon dynamics in the southern United States. Journal of Environmental Quality 35 (4): 1533-1547
ABSTRACT: Received for publication May 17, 2005. Land-cover change has significant influence on carbon storage and fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The southern United States is thought to be the largest carbon sink across the conterminous United States. However, the spatial and temporary variability of carbon storage and fluxes due to land-cover change in the southern United States remains unclear. In this study, we first reconstructed the annual data set of land-cover of the southern United States from 1860 to 2003 with a spatial resolution of 8 km. Then we used a spatially explicit process-based biogeochemical model (Terrestrial Ecosystem Model [TEM] 4.3) to simulate the effects of cropland expansion and forest regrowth on the carbon dynamics in this region. The pattern of land-cover change in the southern United States was primarily driven by the change of cropland, including cropland expansion and forest regrowth on abandoned cropland. The TEM simulation estimated that total carbon storage in the southern United States in 1860 was 36.8 Pg C, which likely was overestimated, including 10.8 Pg C in the southeast and 26 Pg C in the south-central. During 1860–2003, a total of 9.4 Pg C, including 6.5 Pg C of vegetation and 2.9 Pg C of soil C pool, was released to the atmosphere in the southern United States. The net carbon flux due to cropland expansion and forest regrowth on abandoned cropland was approximately zero in the entire southern region between 1980 and 2003. The temporal and spatial variability of regional net carbon exchange was influenced by land-cover pattern, especially the distribution of cropland. The land-use analysis in this study is incomplete and preliminary. Finally, the limitations, improvements, and future research needs of this study were discussed.
R. L. Cochran, H. P. Collins, A. Kennedy, D. F. Bezdicek (2007). Soil carbon pools and fluxes after land conversion in a semiarid shrub-steppe ecosystem. Biology and Fertility of Soils 43 (4): 479-489
ABSTRACT: Worldwide soil carbon (C) losses associated with agricultural expansion and intensification have contributed significantly to increased atmospheric CO2 . Soil disturbances resulting from land use changes were shown to modify the turnover of C and the formation of soil organic matter. A native semiarid shrub-steppe ecosystem recently converted into an irrigated agricultural development in the Columbia Basin of Washington State was evaluated for several abiotic indicators that might signal changes in an ecosystem during the initial stages of conversion and disturbance. Soil samples were collected in March of 2003 and 2004 from nine sites that included native shrub-steppe and agricultural fields converted in 2001 and 2002. Disturbance from conversion to irrigated crop production influenced total organic C and nitrogen (N) storage, C and N mineralization, and C turnover. Cultivated fields had greater concentrations of total organic C and N and higher cumulative C and N mineralization than native sites after 3 years of cultivation. Soil organic C was divided into three pools: an active pool (C a ) consisting of labile C (simple sugars, organic acids, the microbial biomass, and metabolic compounds of incorporated plant residues) with a mean residence time of days, an intermediate or slow pool (C s ) consisting of structural plant residues and physically stabilized C, and a resistant fraction (C r ) consisting of lignin and chemically stabilized C. Extended laboratory incubations of soil with measurements of CO2 were used to differentiate the size and turnover of theC a andC s functional C pools. The active pools were determined to be 4.5 and 6.5% and slow pools averaged 44 and 47% of the total C in native and cultivated fields, respectively. Cultivation, crop residue incorporation, and dairy manure compost amendments contributed to the increase in total soil C.
ABSTRACT: Soils in Brazilian Amazonia may contain up to 136 Gt of carbon to a depth of 8 m, of which 47 Gt are in the top meter. The current rapid conversion of Amazonian forest to cattle pasture makes disturbance of this carbon stock potentially important to the global carbon balance and net greenhouse gas emissions. Information on the response of soil carbon pools to conversion to cattle pasture is conflicting. Some of the varied results that have been reported can be explained by effects of soil compaction, clay content and seasonal changes. Most studies have compared roughly simultaneous samples taken at nearby sites with different use histories (i.e., `chronosequences'); a clear need exists for longitudinal studies in which soil carbon stocks and related parameters are monitored over time at fixed locations. Whether pasture soils are a net sink or a net source of carbon depends on their management, but an approximation of the fraction of pastures under 'typical' and 'ideal' management practices indicates that pasture soils in Brazilian Amazonia are a net carbon source, with the upper 8 m releasing an average of 12.0 t C/ha in land maintained as pasture in the equilibrium landscape that is established in the decades following deforestation. Considering the equilibrium landscape as a whole, which is dominated by pasture and secondary forest derived from pasture, the average net release of soil carbon is 8.5 t C/ha, or 11.7x106 t C for the 1.38x106 ha cleared in 1990. Only 3% of the calculated emission comes from below 1 m depth, but the ultimate contribution from deep layers may be substantially greater. The land area affected by soil C losses under pasture is not restricted to the portion of the region maintained under pasture in the equilibrium landscape, but also the portion under secondary forests derived from pasture. Pasture effects from deforestation in 1990 represent a net committed emission from soils of 9.2x106 t C, or 79% of the total release from soils from deforestation in that year. Soil emissions from Amazonian deforestation represent a quantity of carbon approximately 20% as large as Brazil's annual emission from fossil fuels.
ABSTRACT: During the past few decades, urban and suburban developments have grown at unprecedented rates and extents with unknown consequences for ecosystem function. Carbon pools of soil and vegetation on landscaped properties were examined in the Front Range of Colorado, USA, in order to characterize vegetation and soils found in urban green spaces; analyze their aboveground biomass, vegetative C storage, and soil C storage; and compare these suburban ecosystem properties to their counterparts in native grassland and cultivated fields.
Anthropogenic activities leave clear signatures on all three C compartments measured. Management level dominates the response of grass production, biomass, and N tissue concentration. This, in turn, influences the amount of C and N both stored in and harvested from sites. The site age dominates the amount of woody biomass as well as soil C and N. Soil texture only secondarily affects total soil carbon and total bulk density.
Established urban green spaces harbor larger C pools, more than double in some cases, than native grasslands or agricultural fields on a per-area basis. Lawn grass produces more biomass and stores more C than local prairie or agricultural fields. Introduced woody vegetation comprises a substantial C pool in urban green spaces and represents a new ecosystem feature. After an initial decrease with site development, soil organic carbon (SOC) pools surpass those in grasslands within two decades. In addition to the marked increase of C pools through time, a shift in storage from belowground to aboveground occurs. Whereas grasslands store ̃90% of C belowground, urban green spaces store a decreasing proportion of the total C belowground in soils through time, reaching ̃70% 30–40 years after construction. Despite the substantial increase in C pools in this urban area, it is important to recognize that this shift is distinct from C sequestration since it does not account for a total C budget, including increased anthropogenic C emissions from these sites.
ABSTRACT: Restoring soil C pools by reducing land use intensity is a potentially high impact, rapidly deployable strategy for partially offsetting atmospheric CO2 increases. However, rates of C accumulation and underlying mechanisms have rarely been determined for a range of managed and successional ecosystems on the same soil type. We determined soil organic matter (SOM) fractions with the highest potential for sequestering C in ten ecosystems on the same soil series using both density- and incubation-based fractionation methods. Ecosystems included four annual row-crop systems (conventional, low input, organic and no-till), two perennial cropping systems (alfalfa and poplar), and four native ecosystems (early successional, midsuccessional historically tilled, midsuccessional never-tilled, and late successional forest). Enhanced C storage to 5 cm relative to conventional agriculture ranged from 8.9 g C m−2 y−1 in low input row crops to 31.6 g C m−2 y−1 in the early successional ecosystem. Carbon sequestration across all ecosystems occurred in aggregate-associated pools larger than 53μm. The density-based fractionation scheme identified heavy-fraction C pools (SOM > 1.6 g cm−3 plus SOM < 53μm), particularly those in macroaggregates (>250 μm), as having the highest potential C accumulation rates, ranging from 8.79 g Cm−2 y−1 in low input row crops to 29.22 g C m−2 y−1 in the alfalfa ecosystem. Intra-aggregate light fraction pools accumulated C at slower rates, but generally faster than in inter-aggregate LF pools. Incubation-based methods that fractionated soil into active, slow and passive pools showed that C accumulated primarily in slow and resistant pools. However, crushing aggregates in a manner that simulates tillage resulted in a substantial transfer of C from slow pools with field mean residence times of decades to active pools with mean residence times of only weeks. Our results demonstrate that soil C accumulates almost entirely in soil aggregates, mostly in macroaggregates, following reductions in land use intensity. The potentially rapid destruction of macroaggregates following tillage, however, raises concerns about the long-term persistence of these C pools.
ABSTRACT: The effects of land use change on soil carbon stocks are of concern in the context of international policy agendas on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation. This paper reviews the literature for the influence of land use changes on soil C stocks and reports the results of a meta analysis of these data from 74 publications. The meta analysis indicates that soil C stocks decline after land use changes from pasture to plantation (−10%), native forest to plantation (−13%), native forest to crop (−42%), and pasture to crop (−59%). Soil C stocks increase after land use changes from native forest to pasture (+ 8%), crop to pasture (+ 19%), crop to plantation (+ 18%), and crop to secondary forest (+ 53%). Wherever one of the land use changes decreased soil C, the reverse process usually increased soil carbon and vice versa. As the quantity of available data is not large and the methodologies used are diverse, the conclusions drawn must be regarded as working hypotheses from which to design future targeted investigations that broaden the database. Within some land use changes there were, however, sufficient examples to explore the role of other factors contributing to the above conclusions. One outcome of the meta analysis, especially worthy of further investigation in the context of carbon sink strategies for greenhouse gas mitigation, is that broadleaf tree plantations placed onto prior native forest or pastures did not affect soil C stocks whereas pine plantations reduced soil C stocks by 12–15%.
ABSTRACCT: Previous estimates of the flux of carbon from land use change in sub-Saharan Africa have been based on highly aggregated data and have ignored important categories of land use. To improve these estimates, we divided the region into four subregions (east, west, central, and southern Africa), each with six types of natural vegetation and five types of land use (permanent crops, pastures, shifting cultivation, industrial wood harvest, and tree plantations). We reconstructed rates of land use change and rates of wood harvest from country-level statistics reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (1961–2000) and extrapolated the rates from 1961 to 1850 on the basis of qualitative histories of demography, economy, and land use. We used a bookkeeping model to calculate the annual flux of carbon associated with these changes in land use. Country-level estimates of average forest biomass from the FAO, together with changes in biomass calculated from the reconstructed rates of land use change, constrained the average biomass of forests in 1850. Comparison of potential (predisturbance) forest areas with the areas present in 1850 and 2000 suggests that 60% of Africa's forests were lost before 1850 and an additional 10% lost in the last 150 years. The annual net flux of carbon from changes in land use was probably small and variable before the early 1900s but increased to a source of 0.3 ± 0.2 PgC/yr by the end of the century. In the 1990s the source was equivalent to about 15% of the global net flux of carbon from land use change.
Ito, A., Penner, J.E., Prather, M.J., De Campos, C.P., Houghton, R.A., Kato, T., Jain, A.K., Yang, X., Hurtt, G.C., Frolking, S., Fearon, M.G., Chini, L.P., Wang, A., Price, D.T. (2008). Can we reconcile differences in estimates of carbon fluxes from land-use change and forestry for the 1990s?. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions 8 (1): 3291-3210
ABSTRACT: The effect of Land Use Change and Forestry (LUCF) on terrestrial carbon fluxes can be regarded as a carbon credit or debit under the UNFCCC, but scientific uncertainty in the estimates for LUCF remains large. Here, we assess the LUCF estimates by examining a variety of models of different types with different land cover change maps in the 1990s. Annual carbon pools and their changes are separated into different components for separate geographical regions, while annual land cover change areas and carbon fluxes are disaggregated into different LUCF activities and the biospheric response due to CO2 fertilization and climate change. We developed a consolidated estimate of the terrestrial carbon fluxes that combines book-keeping models with process-based biogeochemical models and inventory estimates and yields an estimate of the global terrestrial carbon flux that is within the uncertainty range developed in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report. We examined the USA and Brazil as case studies in order to assess the cause of differences from the UNFCCC reported carbon fluxes. Major differences in the litter and soil organic matter components are found for the USA. Differences in Brazil result from assumptions about the LUC for agricultural purposes. The effects of CO2 fertilization and climate change also vary significantly in Brazil. Our consolidated estimate shows that the small sink in Latin America is within the uncertainty range from inverse models, but that the sink in the USA is significantly smaller than the inverse models estimates. Because there are different sources of errors at the country level, there is no easy reconciliation of different estimates of carbon fluxes at the global level. Clearly, further work is required to develop data sets for historical land cover change areas and models of biogeochemical changes for an accurate representation of carbon uptake or emissions due to LUC.
ABSTRACT: A process-based approach to modelling the effects of land use change and climate change on the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems was applied at global scale. Simulations were run both with and without land use change. In the absence of land use change between 1700 and 1990, carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems was predicted to increase by 145 Pg C. When land use change was represented during this period, terrestrial ecosystems became a net source of 97 Pg C. Land use change was directly responsible for a flux of 222 Pg C, slightly higher but close to estimates from other studies. The model was then run between 1990 and 2100 with a climate simulated by a GCM. Simulations were run with three land use change scenarios: 1. no land use change; 2. land use change specified by the SRES B2 scenario, and; 3. land use change scaled with population change in the B2 scenario. In the first two simulations with no or limited land use change, the net terrestrial carbon sink was substantial (358 and 257 Pg C, respectively). However, with the population-based land-use change scenario, the losses of carbon through land use change were close to the carbon gains through enhanced net ecosystem productivity, resulting in a net sink near zero. Future changes in land use are highly uncertain, but will have a large impact on the future terrestrial carbon balance. This study attempts to provide some bounds on how land use change may affect the carbon sink over the nextcentury.
ABSTRACT: Estimating dynamic terrestrial ecosystem carbon (C) sources and sinks over large areas is difficult. The scaling of C sources and sinks from the field level to the regional level has been challenging due to the variations of climate, soil, vegetation, and disturbances. As part of an effort to estimate the spatial, temporal, and sectional dimensions of the United States C sources and sinks (the U.S. Carbon Trends Project), this study estimated the forest ecosystem C sequestration of the Appalachian region (186,000 km2 ) for the period of 1972–2000 using the General Ensemble Biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS) that has a strong capability of assimilating land use and land cover change (LUCC) data. On 82 sampling blocks in the Appalachian region, GEMS used sequential 60 m resolution land cover change maps to capture forest stand-replacing events and used forest inventory data to estimate non-stand-replacing changes. GEMS also used Monte Carlo approaches to deal with spatial scaling issues such as initialization of forest age and soil properties. Ensemble simulations were performed to incorporate the uncertainties of input data. Simulated results show that from 1972 to 2000 the net primary productivity (NPP), net ecosystem productivity (NEP), and net biome productivity (NBP) averaged 6.2 Mg C ha−1 y−1 (±1.1), 2.2 Mg C ha−1 y−1 (±0.6), and 1.8 Mg C ha−1 y−1 (±0.6), respectively. The inter-annual variability was driven mostly by climate. Detailed C budgets for the year 2000 were also calculated. Within a total 148,000 km2 forested area, average forest ecosystem C density was estimated to be 186 Mg C ha−1 (±20), of which 98 Mg C ha−1 (±12) was in biomass and 88 Mg C ha−1 (±13) was in litter and soil. The total simulated C stock of the Appalachian forests was estimated to be 2751 Tg C (±296), including 1454 Tg C (±178) in living biomass and 1297 Tg C (±192) in litter and soil. The total net C sequestration (i.e. NBP) of the forest ecosystem in 2000 was estimated to be 19.5 Tg C y−1 (±6.8).
Macedo, M.O., Resende, A.S., Garcia, P.C., Boddey, R.M., Jantalia, C.P., Urquiaga, S., Campello, E.F.C., Franco, A.A. (2008). Changes in soil C and N stocks and nutrient dynamics 13 years after recovery of degraded land using leguminous nitrogen-fixing trees. Forest Ecology and Management 255 (5-6): 1516-1524
ABSTRACT: In tropical forest areas with highly weathered soils, organic matter plays an important role in soil functioning and forest sustainability. When forests are clear-cut, the soil begins almost immediately to lose organic matter, triggering a series of soil degradation processes, the extent and intensity of which depends on soil management. Depending on the level of soil degradation, the rate at which the system can re-establish itself can be slow and may require the use of degraded land restoration techniques. This study aimed at evaluating the potential of pioneer leguminous nitrogen-fixing trees to recuperate degraded land. The area studied – located in the coastal town of Angra dos Reis in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – was planted with seven species of fast-growing leguminous nitrogen-fixing trees in 1991. The nutrient concentrations (Ca, Mg, P and K) and N and C stocks in the soil and litter were determined, in addition to the free- and occluded-light fractions of soil organic matter. Soil samples were also collected from two reference areas: (1) an area of undisturbed native forest; and (2) a deforested area spontaneously colonised by Guinea grass (Panicum maximum ). The nutrient stocks in the litter of the restored area were similar to those found in native forest. The recuperation technique used was able to re-establish the soil C and N stocks after 13 years. C and N increased by 1.73 and 0.13 Mg ha−1 year−1 , respectively. The free-light fraction was highest in the recuperated area and lowest in the deforested area. The occluded-light fraction of the recuperated area was higher than that of the native forest only in the 0–5 cm layer. Both the free-light and occluded fractions were higher in the native forest and recuperated areas than in the deforested area. Since the free-light and the occluded-light fractions are the result of litterfall and decomposition, these results – combined with the data of litter stocks and soil C and N stocks – indicate that the use of legume trees was efficient in re-establishing the nutrient cycling processes of the systems. These results also show that recovering degraded land with this technique is effective in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at high rates.
ABSTRACT: Land-use changes have contributed to increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Conversion from natural peatlands to agricultural land has led to widespread subsidence of the peat surface caused by soil compaction and mineralization. To study the net ecosystem exchange of carbon (C) and the contribution of respiration to peat subsidence, eddy covariance measurements were made over pasture on a well-developed, drained peat soil from 22 May 2002 to 21 May 2003. The depth to the water table fluctuated between 0.02 m in winter 2002 to 0.75 m during late summer and early autumn 2003. Peat soil moisture content varied between 0.6 and 0.7 m3 m−3 until the water table dropped below 0.5 m, when moisture content reached 0.38 m3 m−3 . Neither depth to water table nor soil moisture was found to have an effect on the rate of night-time respiration (ranging from 0.4–8.0μmol CO2 m−2 s−1 in winter and summer, respectively). Most of the variance in night-time respiration was explained by changes in the 0.1 m soil temperature (r2 =0.93). The highest values for daytime net ecosystem exchange were measured in September 2002, with a maximum of −17.2μmol CO2 m−2 s−1 . Grazing events and soil moisture deficiencies during a short period in summer reduced net CO2 exchange. To establish an annual C balance for this ecosystem, non-linear regression was used to model missing data. Annually integrated (CO2 ) C exchange for this peat–pasture ecosystem was 45±500 kg C ha−1 yr−1 . After including other C exchanges (methane emissions from cows and production of milk), the net annual C loss was 1061±500 kg C ha−1 yr−1 .
ABSTRACT: Carbon sequestration has been well recognized as a viable option to slow the rise in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration. The main goals of this study were to assess the carbon sequestration potential (CSP) by afforestation of marginal agricultural land (MagLand) and to identify hotspots for potential afforestation activities in the U.S. Midwest region (Michigan (MI), Indiana (IN), Ohio, Kentucky (KY), West Virginia, Pennsylvania (PA) and Maryland (MD)). The 1992 USGS National Land Cover Dataset and the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) database were used to determine MagLand. Two forest types (coniferous and deciduous) and two management practices (short-rotation versus permanent forest) were combined to form four afforestation scenarios. Simulation models were employed to predict changes in four carbon pools: aboveground biomass, roots, forest floor, and soil organic carbon (SOC). A scenario-generating tool was developed to detect the hotspots. We estimated that there was a total of 6.5 million hectares (Mha) MagLand available in the U.S. Midwest region, which accounts for approximately 24% of the regional total agricultural land. The CSP capacity was predicted to be 508–540 Tg C (1 Tg = 1012 g) over 20 years and 1018–1080 Tg C over 50 years. The results indicate that afforestation of MagLand could offset 6–8% of current CO2 emissions by combustion of fossil fuel in the region. This analysis showed only slight differences in carbon sequestration between forest types or between short-rotation and permanent forest scenarios. Note that this calculation assumed that all suitable MagLand in the U.S. Midwest region was converted to forest and that “best carbon management” was adopted. The actual CSP could be less if the economical and social factors are taken into account. The most preferred locations for implementing the afforestation strategy were found to be concentrated along a west-east axis across the southern parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as in an area covering southern Michigan and northern parts of Indiana and Ohio. Overall, we conclude that afforestation of MagLand in the Midwest U.S. region offers great potential for carbon sequestration. Future studies are needed to evaluate its economic feasibility, social acceptability, and operation capability.
ABSTRACT: We used data available from the literature and measurements from Baltimore, Maryland, to (i) assess inter-city variability of soil organic carbon (SOC) pools (1-m depth) of six cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and Syracuse); (ii) calculate the net effect of urban land-use conversion on SOC pools for the same cities; (iii) use the National Land Cover Database to extrapolate total SOC pools for each of the lower 48 U.S. states; and (iv) compare these totals with aboveground totals of carbon storage by trees. Residential soils in Baltimore had SOC densities that were approximately 20 to 34% less than Moscow or Chicago. By contrast, park soils in Baltimore had more than double the SOC density of Hong Kong. Of the six cities, Atlanta and Chicago had the highest and lowest SOC densities per total area, respectively (7.83 and 5.49 kg m–2 ). On a pervious area basis, the SOC densities increased between 8.32 (Oakland) and 10.82 (Atlanta) kg m–2 . In the northeastern United States, Boston and Syracuse had 1.6-fold less SOC post- than in pre-urban development stage. By contrast, cities located in warmer and/or drier climates had slightly higher SOC pools post- than in pre-urban development stage (4 and 6% for Oakland and Chicago, respectively). For the state analysis, aboveground estimates of C density varied from a low of 0.3 (WY) to a high of 5.1 (GA) kg m–2 , while belowground estimates varied from 4.6 (NV) to 12.7 (NH) kg m–2 . The ratio of aboveground to belowground estimates of C storage varied widely with an overall ratio of 2.8. Our results suggest that urban soils have the potential to sequester large amounts of SOC, especially in residential areas where management inputs and the lack of annual soil disturbances create conditions for net increases in SOC. In addition, our analysis suggests the importance of regional variations of land-use and land-cover distributions, especially wetlands, in estimating urban SOC pools.
ABSTRACT: If biospheric sinks, such as soil organic carbon, are to be used to meet obligations for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Kyoto Protocol, the permanence of these sinks needs to be considered. Further, since only direct human-induced carbon sinks can be included, and sinks resulting from indirect and natural effects cannot be used, there is a pressing need to separate direct human-induced effects from indirect and natural effects. Since these effects also influence the permanence of soil organic stocks, this paper attempts to synthesize existing knowledge in soil science, and use models to examine the likely influence of direct, indirect and natural effects on the permanence of soil organic carbon stocks.
Stevens, A., van Wesemael, B. (2008). Soil organic carbon dynamics at the regional scale as influenced by land use history: a case study in forest soils from southern Belgium. Soil Use and Management 24 (1): 69-79
ABSTRACT: Land use change (LUC) is known to have a large impact on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. However, at a regional scale, our ability to explain SOC dynamics is limited due to the variability generated by inconsistent initial conditions between sample points, poor spatial information on previous land use/land management history and scarce SOC inventories. This study combines the resampling in 2003–2006 of an extensive soil survey in 1950–1960 with exhaustive historical data on LUC (1868–2006) to explain observed changes in the SOC stocks of temperate forest soils in the Belgian Ardennes. Results from resampling showed a significant loss of SOC between the two surveys, associated with a decrease in variability. The mean carbon content decreased from 40.4 to 34.5 g C kg−1 (10.6 to 9.6 kg C m−2 ), with a mean rate of C change (ΔSOC) of−0.15 g C kg−1 year−1 (−0.023 kg C m−2 year−1 ). Soils with high SOC content tended to loose carbon while conversely soils with low SOC tended to gain carbon. Land use change history explained a significant part of past and current SOC stocks as well asΔSOC during the last 50 years. We show that the use of spatially explicit historical data can help to quantitatively explain changes in SOC content at the regional scale.
Steyaert, L. T., R. G. Knox (2008). Reconstructed historical land cover and biophysical parameters for studies of land-atmosphere interactions within the eastern United States. Journal of Geophysical Reseawrch - Atmospheres 113 (D02101): doi:10.1029/2006JD008277
ABSTRACT: Over the past 350 years, the eastern half of the United States experienced extensive land cover changes. These began with land clearing in the 1600s, continued with widespread deforestation, wetland drainage, and intensive land use by 1920, and then evolved to the present-day landscape of forest regrowth, intensive agriculture, urban expansion, and landscape fragmentation. Such changes alter biophysical properties that are key determinants of land-atmosphere interactions (water, energy, and carbon exchanges). To understand the potential implications of these land use transformations, we developed and analyzed 20-km land cover and biophysical parameter data sets for the eastern United States at 1650, 1850, 1920, and 1992 time slices. Our approach combined potential vegetation, county-level census data, soils data, resource statistics, a Landsat-derived land cover classification, and published historical information on land cover and land use. We reconstructed land use intensity maps for each time slice and characterized the land cover condition. We combined these land use data with a mutually consistent set of biophysical parameter classes, to characterize the historical diversity and distribution of land surface properties. Time series maps of land surface albedo, leaf area index, a deciduousness index, canopy height, surface roughness, and potential saturated soils in 1650, 1850, 1920, and 1992 illustrate the profound effects of land use change on biophysical properties of the land surface. Although much of the eastern forest has returned, the average biophysical parameters for recent landscapes remain markedly different from those of earlier periods. Understanding the consequences of these historical changes will require land-atmosphere interactions modeling experiments.
Tan, Z. X., Liu, S. G., Johnston, C. A., Loveland, T. R., Tieszen, L. L., Liu, J. X., Kurtz, R. (2005). Soil organic carbon dynamics as related to land use history in the northwestern Great Plains. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 19 (GB3011): doi:10.1029/2005GB002536
ABSTRACT: Strategies for mitigating the global greenhouse effect must account for soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics at both spatial and temporal scales, which is usually challenging owing to limitations in data and approach. This study was conducted to characterize the SOC dynamics associated with land use change history in the northwestern Great Plains ecoregion. A sampling framework (40 sample blocks of 10 × 10 km2 randomly located in the ecoregion) and the General Ensemble Biogeochemical Modeling System (GEMS) were used to quantify the spatial and temporal variability in the SOC stock from 1972 to 2001. Results indicate that C source and sink areas coexisted within the ecoregion, and the SOC stock in the upper 20-cm depth increased by 3.93 Mg ha−1 over the 29 years. About 17.5% of the area was evaluated as a C source at 122 kg C ha−1 yr−1 . The spatial variability of SOC stock was attributed to the dynamics of both slow and passive fractions, while the temporal variation depended on the slow fraction only. The SOC change at the block scale was positively related to either grassland proportion or negatively related to cropland proportion. We concluded that the slow C pool determined whether soils behaved as sources or sinks of atmospheric CO2 , but the strength depended on antecedent SOC contents, land cover type, and land use change history in the ecoregion.
ABSTRACT: Studies of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in ecosystems are leading to an understanding of the factors and mechanisms that affect the inputs to and outputs from soils and how these might be manipulated to enhance C sequestration. Both the quantity and the quality of soil C inputs influence C storage and the potential for C sequestration. Changes in tillage intensity and crop rotations can also affect C sequestration by changing the soil physical and biological conditions and by changing the amounts and types of organic inputs to the soil. Analyses of changes in soil C and N balances are being supplemented with studies of the management practices needed to manage soil carbon and the implications for fossil-fuel use, emission of other greenhouse gases (such as N2 O and CH4 ), and impacts on agricultural productivity. The Consortium for Research on Enhancing Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems (CSiTE) was created in 1999 to perform fundamental research that will lead to methods to enhance C sequestration as one component of a C management strategy. Research to date at one member of this consortium, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has focused on C sequestration in soils and we begin here to draw together some of the results.
ABSTRACT: The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 mandates US production of 136 billion L of biofuel by 2022. This target implies an appropriation of regional primary production for dedicated feedstocks at scales that may dramatically affect water supply, exacerbate existing water quality challenges, and force undesirable environmental resource trade offs. Using a comparative life cycle approach, we assess energy balances and water resource implications for four dedicated ethanol feedstocks – corn, sugarcane, sweet sorghum, and southern pine – in two southeastern states, Florida and Georgia, which are a presumed epicenter for future biofuel production. Net energy benefit ratios for ethanol and coproducts range were 1.26 for corn, 1.94 for sweet sorghum, 2.51 for sugarcane, and 2.97 for southern pine. Corn also has high nitrogen (N) and water demand (11.2 kg GJnet −1 and 188 m3 GJnet −1 , respectively) compared with other feedstocks, making it a poor choice for regional ethanol production. Southern pine, in contrast, has relatively low N demand (0.4 kg GJnet −1 ) and negligible irrigation needs. However, it has comparatively low gross productivity, which results in large land area per unit ethanol production (208 m2 GJnet −1 ), and, by association, substantial indirect and incremental water use (51 m3 GJnet −1 ). Ultimately, all four feedstocks require substantial land (10.1, 3.1, 2.5, and 6.1 million ha for corn, sugarcane, sweet sorghum, and pine, respectively), annual N fertilization (3230, 574, 396, 109 million kg N) and annual total water (54 400, 20 840, 8840, and 14 970 million m3 ) resources when scaled up to meet EISA renewable fuel standards production goals. This production would, in turn, offset only 17.5% of regional gasoline consumption on a gross basis, and substantially less when evaluated on a net basis. Utilization of existing waste biomass sources may ameliorate these effects, but does not obviate the need for dedicated primary feedstock production. Careful scrutiny of environmental trade-offs is necessary before embracing aggressive ethanol production mandates.
ABSTRACT: The increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 by 31% since 1750 from fossil fuel combustion and land use change necessitates identification of strategies for mitigating the threat of the attendant global warming. Since the industrial revolution, global emissions of carbon (C) are estimated at 270±30 Pg (Pg=petagram=1015 G=1 billion ton) due to fossil fuel combustion and 136±55 Pg due to land use change and soil cultivation. Emissions due to land use change include those by deforestation, biomass burning, conversion of natural to agricultural ecosystems, drainage of wetlands and soil cultivation. Depletion of soil organic C (SOC) pool have contributed 78±12 Pg of C to the atmosphere. Some cultivated soils have lost one-half to two-thirds of the original SOC pool with a cumulative loss of 30–40 Mg C/ha (Mg=megagram=106 G=1 ton). The depletion of soil C is accentuated by soil degradation and exacerbated by land misuse and soil mismanagement. Thus, adoption of a restorative land use and recommended management practices (RMPs) on agricultural soils can reduce the rate of enrichment of atmospheric CO2 while having positive impacts on food security, agro-industries, water quality and the environment. A considerable part of the depleted SOC pool can be restored through conversion of marginal lands into restorative land uses, adoption of conservation tillage with cover crops and crop residue mulch, nutrient cycling including the use of compost and manure, and other systems of sustainable management of soil and water resources. Measured rates of soil C sequestration through adoption of RMPs range from 50 to 1000 kg/ha/year. The global potential of SOC sequestration through these practices is 0.9±0.3 Pg C/year, which may offset one-fourth to one-third of the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 estimated at 3.3 Pg C/year. The cumulative potential of soil C sequestration over 25–50 years is 30–60 Pg. The soil C sequestration is a truly win–win strategy. It restores degraded soils, enhances biomass production, purifies surface and ground waters, and reduces the rate of enrichment of atmospheric CO2 by offsetting emissions due to fossil fuel.
ABSTRACT: We present evidence that land use practices in the plains of Colorado influence regional climate and vegetation in adjacent natural areas in the Rocky Mountains in predictable ways. Mesoscale climate model simulations using the Colorado State University Regional Atmospheric Modelling System (RAMS) projected that modifications to natural vegetation in the plains, primarily due to agriculture and urbanization, could produce lower summer temperatures in the mountains. We corroborate the RAMS simulations with three independent sets of data: (i) climate records from 16 weather stations, which showed significant trends of decreasing July temperatures in recent decades; (ii) the distribution of seedlings of five dominant conifer species in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, which suggested that cooler, wetter conditions occurred over roughly the same time period; and (iii) increased stream flow, normalized for changes in precipitation, during the summer months in four river basins, which also indicates cooler summer temperatures and lower transpiration at landscape scales. Combined, the mesoscale atmospheric/land-surface model, short-term trends in regional temperatures, forest distribution changes, and hydrology data indicate that the effects of land use practices on regional climate may overshadow larger-scale temperature changes commonly associated with observed increases in CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
S. Hu, D. C. Coleman, C. R. Carroll, P. F. Hendrix, M. H. Beare (1997). Labile soil carbon pools in subtropical forest and agricultural ecosystems as influenced by management practices and vegetation types. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 65 (1): 69-78
ABSTRACT: Carbon storage in agricultural and forest soils has attracted attention recently due to its potential as a substantial carbon sink. Labile soil C pools are especially important because they are more vulnerable to climatic change and disturbance and play vital roles in nutrient cycling. Southern Appalachian forest soils and those from conventional tillage (CT), no-tillage (NT) and fescue sods at three sites in the Georgia piedmont were analyzed for total C, total N, carbohydrates, and microbial biomass C. The sizes of soil labile C pools (carbohydrates and microbial biomass) and their contributions to the total soil C pool differed significantly among ecosystems. The highest carbohydrate contents and microbial biomass C were found in forest soils, but agricultural soils had a significantly higher proportion of the soil organic matter present as carbohydrates and as microbial biomass. This difference probably reflects the quality of soil organic matter. Soil microbial biomass C was more sensitive to changes in management regimes than soil carbohydrates. Management practices signfiicantly affected organic C, carbohydrate contents, microbial biomass C and organic C turnover rates in agricultural soils, whereas differences in the quality of organic input due to different vegetation types substantially influenced soil labile C pools in forest soils. High mannose-to-xylose ratios in highly sandy agricultural soils indicate that plant-derived materials are rapidly metabolized by microorganisms and that organic C protection in sandy soils is largely dependent on reducing microbial access through effective residue management such as surface placement.
ABSTRACT: Soil science must play a crucial role in meeting present and emerging societal needs of the 21st century and beyond for a population expected to stabilize around 10 billion and having increased aspirations for a healthy diet and a rise in the standards of living. In addition to advancing food security by eliminating hunger and malnutrition, soil resources must be managed regarding numerous other global needs through interdisciplinary collaborations. Some of which are to mitigate global warming; to improve quantity and quality of freshwater resources; to enhance biodiversity; to minimize desertification; serve as a repository of waste; an archive of human and planetary history; meet growing energy demands; develop strategies of sustainable management of urban ecosystems; alleviate poverty of agricultural communities as an engine of economic development; and fulfill aspirations of rapidly urbanizing and industrializing societies. In addition to food and ecosystem services, bio-industries (e.g., plastics, solvents, paints, adhesives, pharmaceuticals and chemicals) through plant-based compounds (carbohydrates, proteins, and oils) and energy plantations (bioethanol and biodiesel) can revolutionize agriculture. These diverse and complex demands on soil resources necessitate a shift in strategic thinking and conceptualizing sustainable management of soil resources in agroecosystems to provide all ecosystem services while also meeting the needs for food, feed, fiber, and fuel by developing multifunctional production systems. There is a strong need to broaden the scope of soil science to effectively address ever changing societal needs. To do this, soil scientists must rally with allied sciences including hydrology, climatology, geology, ecology, biology, physical sciences (chemistry, physics), and engineering. Use of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology can play an important role in addressing emerging global issues. Pursuit of sustainability, being a moral/ethical and political challenge, must be addressed in cooperation with economists and political scientists. Soil scientists must work in cooperation with industrial ecologists and urban planners toward sustainable development and management of soils in urban and industrial ecosystems. More than half of the world's population (3.3 billion) live in towns and cities, and the number of urban dwellers is expected to increase to 5 billion by 2030. Thus, the study of urban soils for industrial use, human habitation, recreation, infrastructure forestry, and urban agriculture is a high priority. Soil scientists must nurture symbiotic/synergistic relations with numerous stake holders including land managers, energy companies and carbon traders, urban planners, waste disposal organizations, and conservators of natural resources. Trading of C credits in a trillion-dollar market by 2020 must be made accessible to land managers, especially the resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Soil science curricula, at undergraduate and graduate levels, must be revisited to provide the needed background in all basic and applied sciences with focus on globalization. We must raise the profile of soil science profession and position students in the competitive world of ever flattening Earth.
ABSTRACT: When agricultural land is no longer used for cultivation and allowed to revert to natural vegetation or replanted to perennial vegetation, soil organic carbon can accumulate. This accumulation process essentially reverses some of the effects responsible for soil organic carbon losses from when the land was converted from perennial vegetation. We discuss the essential elements of what is known about soil organic matter dynamics that may result in enhanced soil carbon sequestration with changes in land-use and soil management. We review literature that reports changes in soil organic carbon after changes in land-use that favour carbon accumulation. This data summary provides a guide to approximate rates of SOC sequestration that are possible with management, and indicates the relative importance of some factors that influence the rates of organic carbon sequestration in soil. There is a large variation in the length of time for and the rate at which carbon may accumulate in soil, related to the productivity of the recovering vegetation, physical and biological conditions in the soil, and the past history of soil organic carbon inputs and physical disturbance. Maximum rates of C accumulation during the early aggrading stage of perennial vegetation growth, while substantial, are usually much less than 100 g C m−2 y−1 . Average rates of accumulation are similar for forest or grassland establishment: 33.8 g C m−2 y−1 and 33.2 g C m−2 y−1 , respectively. These observed rates of soil organic C accumulation, when combined with the small amount of land area involved, are insufficient to account for a significant fraction of the missing C in the global carbon cycle as accumulating in the soils of formerly agricultural land.
P. D. Falloon, P. Smith, J. U. Smith, J. Szabó, K. Coleman, S. Marshall (1998). Regional estimates of carbon sequestration potential: linking the Rothamsted Carbon Model to GIS databases. Biology and Fertility of Soils 27 (3): 236-241
ABSTRACT: Soil organic matter (SOM) represents a major pool of carbon within the biosphere. It is estimated at about 1400 Pg globally, which is roughly twice that in atmospheric CO2 . The soil can act as both a source and a sink for carbon and nutrients. Changes in agricultural land use and climate can lead to changes in the amount of carbon held in soils, thus, affecting the fluxes of CO2 to and from the atmosphere. Some agricultural management practices will lead to a net sequestration of carbon in the soil. Regional estimates of the carbon sequestration potential of these practices are crucial if policy makers are to plan future land uses to reduce national CO2 emissions. In Europe, carbon sequestration potential has previously been estimated using data from the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems Soil Organic Matter Network (GCTE SOMNET). Linear relationships between management practices and yearly changes in soil organic carbon were developed and used to estimate changes in the total carbon stock of European soils. To refine these semi-quantitative estimates, the local soil type, meteorological conditions and land use must also be taken into account. To this end, we have modified the Rothamsted Carbon Model, so that it can be used in a predictive manner, with SOMNET data. The data is then adjusted for local conditions using Geographical Information Systems databases. In this paper, we describe how these developments can be used to estimate carbon sequestration at the regional level using a dynamic simulation model linked to spatially explicit data. Some calculations of the potential effects of afforestation on soil carbon stocks in Central Hungary provide a simple example of the system in use.
ABSTRACT: When agricultural land is no longer used for cultivation and allowed to revert to natural vegetation or replanted to perennial vegetation, soil organic carbon can accumulate by processes that essentially reverse some of the effects responsible for soil organic carbon losses from when the land was converted from perennial vegetation. We discuss the essential elements of what is known about soil organic matter dynamics that may result in enhanced soil carbon sequestration with changes in land-use and soil management. We review literature that reports changes in soil organic carbon after changes in land-use that favor carbon accumulation. This data summary provides a guide to approximate rates of SOC sequestration that are possible with management, and indicates the relative importance of some factors that influence the rates of organic carbon sequestration in soil. There is a large amount of variation in rates and the length of time that carbon may accumulate in soil that are related to the productivity of the recovering vegetation, physical and biological conditions in the soil, and the past history of soil organic carbon inputs and physical disturbance. Maximum rates of C accumulation during the early aggrading stage of perennial vegetation growth, while substantial, are usually much less than 100 g C m-2 y-1 . Average rates of accumulation are similar for forest or grassland establishment: 33.8 g C m-2 y-1 and 33.2 g C m-2 y-1 respectively. These observed rates of soil organic C accumulation, when combined with the small amount of land area involved, are insufficient to account for a significant fraction of the missing C in the global carbon cycle as accumulating in the soils of formerly agricultural land.