The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases

Avni Malhotra*, Katherine Todd-Brown, Lucas E. Nave, Niels H. Batjes, James R. Holmquist, Alison M. Hoyt, Colleen M. Iversen, Robert B. Jackson, Kate Lajtha, Corey Lawrence, Olga Vindušková, William Wieder, Mathew Williams, Gustaf Hugelius, Jennifer Harden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil carbon has been measured for over a century in applications ranging from understanding biogeochemical processes in natural ecosystems to quantifying the productivity and health of managed systems. Consolidating diverse soil carbon datasets is increasingly important to maximize their value, particularly with growing anthropogenic and climate change pressures. In this progress report, we describe recent advances in soil carbon data led by the International Soil Carbon Network and other networks. We highlight priority areas of research requiring soil carbon data, including (a) quantifying boreal, arctic and wetland carbon stocks, (b) understanding the timescales of soil carbon persistence using radiocarbon and chronosequence studies, (c) synthesizing long-term and experimental data to inform carbon stock vulnerability to global change, (d) quantifying root influences on soil carbon and (e) identifying gaps in model–data integration. We also describe the landscape of soil datasets currently available, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses and synergies. Now more than ever, integrated soil data are needed to inform climate mitigation, land management and agricultural practices. This report will aid new data users in navigating various soil databases and encourage scientists to make their measurements publicly available and to join forces to find soil-related solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-719
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • long-term ecological research
  • model–data integration
  • root traits
  • Soil carbon data
  • soil carbon stabilization
  • soil chronosequence
  • soil database
  • soil radiocarbon
  • wetland carbon

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    Malhotra, A., Todd-Brown, K., Nave, L. E., Batjes, N. H., Holmquist, J. R., Hoyt, A. M., Iversen, C. M., Jackson, R. B., Lajtha, K., Lawrence, C., Vindušková, O., Wieder, W., Williams, M., Hugelius, G., & Harden, J. (2019). The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases. Progress in Physical Geography, 43(5), 707-719. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309133319873309