Soil carbon pools in northern high-latitude regions and their response to climate changes are highly uncertain, and collaboration is required from field scientists and modelers to establish baseline data for carbon cycle studies. The Global Change Program at the U.S. Geological Survey has funded a 2-year effort to establish a soil carbon network and database for Alaska based on collaborations from numerous institutions.
To initiate a community effort, a workshop for the development of an Alaska soil carbon database was held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The database will be a resource for spatial and biogeochemical models of Alaska ecosystems and will serve as a prototype for a nationwide community project: the National Soil Carbon Network (http://www.soilcarb.net). Studies will benefit from the combination of multiple academic and government data sets. This collaborative effort is expected to identify data gaps and uncertainties more comprehensively. Future applications of information contained in the database will identify specific vulnerabilities of soil carbon in Alaska to climate change, disturbance, and vegetation change.