Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts

Pete Smith*, Pia Gottschalk, Jo Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Soils contain vast reserves (similar to 1500 Pg) of carbon (C), about twice that found as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Historically, soils in managed ecosystems have lost a portion of this C (40-90 Pg) through land-use change, some of which has remained in the atmosphere. In terms of climate change, most projections suggest soil C changes driven by future climate change will range from small losses to moderate gains, but these global trends show considerable regional variation. The response of soil C in future will be determined by a delicate balance between the impacts of increased temperature and decreased soil moisture on decomposition rates, and the balance between changes in C losses from decomposition and C gains through increased productivity. In terms of using soils to mitigate climate change, soil C sequestration globally has a large, cost-competitive mitigation potential. Nevertheless, limitations of soil C sequestration include time limitation, non-permanence, displacement and difficulties in verification. Despite these limitations, soil C sequestration can be useful to meet short-to medium-term targets, and confers a number of co-benefits on soils, making it a viable option for reducing the short-term atmospheric CO2 concentration, thus buying time to develop longer-term emission reduction solutions across all sectors of the economy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoil carbon
Subtitle of host publicationScience, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits
PublisherCABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT
Pages235-242
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-78064-532-2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameSCOPE Series
PublisherCABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT
Volume71

Keywords

  • LAND-USE CHANGE
  • GREENHOUSE-GAS MITIGATION
  • ORGANIC-CARBON
  • TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS
  • PROJECTED CHANGES
  • AGRICULTURE
  • CYCLE
  • SEQUESTRATION
  • SCENARIOS
  • MODEL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Smith, P., Gottschalk, P., & Smith, J. (2015). Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts. In Soil carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits (pp. 235-242). (SCOPE Series; Vol. 71). CABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT.

Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts. / Smith, Pete; Gottschalk, Pia; Smith, Jo.

Soil carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. CABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT, 2015. p. 235-242 (SCOPE Series; Vol. 71).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Smith, P, Gottschalk, P & Smith, J 2015, Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts. in Soil carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. SCOPE Series, vol. 71, CABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT, pp. 235-242.
Smith P, Gottschalk P, Smith J. Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts. In Soil carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. CABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT. 2015. p. 235-242. (SCOPE Series).
Smith, Pete ; Gottschalk, Pia ; Smith, Jo. / Climate Change and Soil Carbon Impacts. Soil carbon: Science, Management and Policy for Multiple Benefits. CABI PUBLISHING-C A B INT, 2015. pp. 235-242 (SCOPE Series).
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AB - Soils contain vast reserves (similar to 1500 Pg) of carbon (C), about twice that found as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Historically, soils in managed ecosystems have lost a portion of this C (40-90 Pg) through land-use change, some of which has remained in the atmosphere. In terms of climate change, most projections suggest soil C changes driven by future climate change will range from small losses to moderate gains, but these global trends show considerable regional variation. The response of soil C in future will be determined by a delicate balance between the impacts of increased temperature and decreased soil moisture on decomposition rates, and the balance between changes in C losses from decomposition and C gains through increased productivity. In terms of using soils to mitigate climate change, soil C sequestration globally has a large, cost-competitive mitigation potential. Nevertheless, limitations of soil C sequestration include time limitation, non-permanence, displacement and difficulties in verification. Despite these limitations, soil C sequestration can be useful to meet short-to medium-term targets, and confers a number of co-benefits on soils, making it a viable option for reducing the short-term atmospheric CO2 concentration, thus buying time to develop longer-term emission reduction solutions across all sectors of the economy.

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