Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Massive Power of Soil Carbon Revealed

Could soil carbon sequestration absorb the world’s fossil fuel emissions? They have the capacity, according to soil scientist Margaret Torn from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). co-author Schmidt, M. et al., Persistence of soil organic matter as an ecosystem property, in: Nature, 6 October, 2011. “ The fluxes between soil carbon in the form of organic matter and carbon in the atmosphere as CO2 are very large. A small change in carbon cycling can have a huge affect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and therefore a huge feedback to climate change. As an example, a ten percent change in the soil carbon flux to the atmosphere would roughly double the net CO2 input. And if soils released only 0.3 percent of their carbon stores, it would equal year 2010 fossil fuel emissions.” Is the reverse true? If we were able to increase the soil’s store of carbon by 0.3% that we could absorb the world’s entire fossil fuel emissions?

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