SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • soil erosion;
  • SOM carbon;
  • soil organic matter persistence

ABSTRACT

The effect of erosional detachment, transport, and deposition of topsoil on the stock of soil organic matter (SOM) and its association with soil minerals has been a focus of a growing number of studies. A particularly lively debate is currently centered on the questions of whether terrestrial sedimentation of previously eroded SOM may constitute a relevant sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), and how ‘stable’ such carbon (C) might be on multidecadal timescales. In this commentary, we illustrate how redistribution of eroded SOM within a landscape can create situations that are not adequately described by the jargon commonly used to characterize C turnover dynamics. We argue that more quantitative and scientifically rigorous categories are needed to describe soil C turnover and to promote the development of innovative, numerical models of C dynamics in landscapes characterized by significant mass movement. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.