CM – Warmer soil stores less carbon: Study


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November 18, 2021

from University of Exeter

Global warming will cause the world’s soil to release carbon, new research shows.

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Scientists used data from more than 9,000 soil samples from around the world and found that carbon storage « decreases sharply » as average temperatures rise.

This is an example of « positive feedback » in which Global warming means that more carbon is released into the atmosphere, which further accelerates climate change.

It is important that the amount of carbon that could be released depends on the type of soil, with coarsely structured (low-clay) Soils lose three times as much carbon as finely structured (clay-rich) soils.

Researchers at Exeter University and Stockholm University say their results will help identify vulnerable carbon stocks and provide an opportunity to improve Earth System Models (ESMs) that simulate future climate change.

« Because more carbon is stored in soils than in the atmosphere and all trees the planet put together, the release of even a small percentage could have a significant impact on our climate, « said Professor Iain Hartley of Exeter College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

 » Our analysis identified carbon stores in coarse-textured soils at high latitudes (far from the equator) as probably most vulnerable to climate change.

« Such beds may therefore require special attention given the high rates of warming in cooler regions.

 » In contrast, we found that carbon stores in finely structured soils are less prone to global warming in tropical areas. « 

The data on the 9,300 soil profiles come from the World Soil Information Database, with the study focusing on the top 50 cm of soil.

By comparing carbon storage in places with different average temperatures, the researchers estimated that probably The effects of global warming decrease.

For every 10 ° C increase in temperature, the average carbon storage (across all soils) fell by more than 25%.

« Even gloomy predictions don’t assume this level of warming, but we have them Scale used to give us peace of mind that the effects we observed were due to temperature rather than other variables, « said Professor Hartley.

« Our results show that more and more carbon is released from the soil as temperatures rise.

 » It is important to note that our study did not examine the time scales involved and more research is needed to determine investigate how much carbon could be released in this century. « 

 » This suggests that there is a way to use the patterns we observed to improve the way we model soils and reduce the uncertainty in to further reduce their projections, ”said Professor Hartley.

The differences in carbon storage based on soil texture occur because finer soils provide more mineral surface for carbon-based organic material to attach to, reducing the ability of microbes to access and decompose / p> The paper published in the journal Nature Communications is entitled: « Temperature effects on carbon storage are controlled by soil stabilization capacities. »

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