Soil Organic Carbon Change Monitored Over Large Areas
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©2010. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 91, Issue 47, pages 441–442, 23 November 2010
How to Cite
2010), Soil Organic Carbon Change Monitored Over Large Areas, Eos Trans. AGU, 91(47), 441–442, doi:10.1029/2010EO470001., , , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
- greenhouse gas;
Soils account for the largest fraction of terrestrial carbon (C) and thus are critically important in determining global C cycle dynamics. In North America, conversion of native prairies to agriculture over the past 150 years released 30–50% of soil organic carbon (SOC) stores [Mann, 1986]. Improved agricultural practices could recover much of this SOC, storing it in biomass and soil and thereby sequestering billions of tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). These practices involve increasing C inputs to soil (e.g., through crop rotation, higher biomass crops, and perennial crops) and decreasing losses (e.g., through reduced tillage intensity) [Janzen et al., 1998; Lal et al., 2003; Smith et al., 2007].
Managing agricultural soils to increase SOC storage is an immediately available, cost-competitive option for mitigating CO2 emissions [Smith et al., 2007; Thomson et al., 2008], with a technical potential to offset as much as 800 teragrams of CO2 per year in the United States (∼13% of U.S. CO2 emissions) [Lal et al., 2003] and 5000 teragrams per year globally (∼17% of global CO2 emissions) [Smith et al., 2007]. Managing soils to sequester organic C also brings attendant benefits such as increased and sustainable crop productivity; improved quality of soil, water, and air; reduced energy inputs; and reduced vulnerability to climate change [Lal, 2004].