Comparison of approaches for estimating carbon sequestration at the regional scale

P. D. Falloon, Peter Smith, J. Szabo, L. Pasztor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many former estimates of regional scale C sequestration potential have made use of linear regressions based on long-term experimental data, whilst some have used dynamic soil organic matter (SOM) models linked to spatial databases. Few studies have compared the two methods. We present a case study in which the potential of different land management practices to sequester carbon in soil in arable land is estimated by different methods. Two dynamic SOM models were chosen for this study, RothC (a soil process model) and CENTURY (a whole ecosystem model with a SOM module). RothC and CENTURY are the two most widely used and validated SOM models worldwide. A Geographic Information System (GIS) containing soil, land use and climate lavers, was assembled for a case study in central Hungary. GIS interfaces were developed for the RothC and CENTURY models, thus linking them to the spatial datasets at the regional level. This allowed a comparison of estimates of the C sequestration potential of different land management practices obtained using the two models and using regression based approaches. Although estimates obtained by the different approaches were of the same order of magnitude, differences were observed. Some of the land management scenarios studied here showed sufficient C mitigation potential to meet Hungarian CO2 reduction commitments. For example, afforestation of 12% current arable land could sequester 0.042-0.092 Tg yr(-1) in the soil alone, or 0.285-0.588 Tg C yr(-1) in both soil and biomass; 1990 level CO2 emissions for the study area were 4.7 Tg C with a corresponding reduction commitment of 0.282 Tg C. It is not, however, suggested that this is the only, or the most favourable way, in which to meet the commitments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-174
Number of pages11
JournalSoil Use & Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • organic carbon
  • soil
  • estimation
  • information systems
  • models
  • soil organic matter
  • Hungary
  • long-term experiments
  • UK agricultural land
  • soil organic-carbon
  • trace gas fluxes
  • climate-change
  • simulating trends
  • atmospheric CO2
  • mitigation
  • model
  • storage


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of approaches for estimating carbon sequestration at the regional scale'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this