Monday, December 15, 2008

Papers on soil carbon in San Francisco

US Geological Survey: Mounting evidence shows that soil carbon is increasingly contributing larger amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere as a result of warming, permafrost degradation, and complex climate-biogeochemical interactions.

Northern soils are known to harbor large amounts of carbon in the zone between the moss surface and the permafrost or mineral soil boundary. USGS Soil Scientist, Jennifer Harden explains, "When permafrost thaws to create a thicker active layer, microbial processing of previously frozen carbon results in particularly large releases of CO2." This carbon-rich soil zone is proving be the "hot zone" for CO2 emissions as environmental conditions change through decomposition and wildfires.

Soil is the largest terrestrial reservoir of carbon, containing twice as much as the atmosphere and three times that in global vegetation. It is known to interact with carbon reservoirs in vegetation and the atmosphere by annually transferring significant amounts of carbon. Scientists are researching the role that soil carbon may play in forcing climate change during the coming decades.

Over past centuries northern ecosystems have been very effective at sequestering carbon into soil organic matter, as evidenced by the large stocks of organic carbon in northern soils, particularly permafrost and wetland landforms. USGS scientists and their colleagues are studying soil carbon in the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada, as well as other areas in the United States, to gain insights into global patterns of climate change as well as the effect of disturbances on the soil carbon cycle.

Results of USGS carbon and soil studies will be presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, Dec 15 - 19, in Moscone West Convention Center. USGS scientists will be discussing the large stores of carbon in northern soils, and their vulnerabilities to global change….

Mer Bleue bog conservation area in Ottawa, shot by P199, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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