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      Long-term pattern and magnitude of soil carbon feedback to the climate system in a warming world

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          Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change.

          Significantly more carbon is stored in the world's soils--including peatlands, wetlands and permafrost--than is present in the atmosphere. Disagreement exists, however, regarding the effects of climate change on global soil carbon stocks. If carbon stored belowground is transferred to the atmosphere by a warming-induced acceleration of its decomposition, a positive feedback to climate change would occur. Conversely, if increases of plant-derived carbon inputs to soils exceed increases in decomposition, the feedback would be negative. Despite much research, a consensus has not yet emerged on the temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition. Unravelling the feedback effect is particularly difficult, because the diverse soil organic compounds exhibit a wide range of kinetic properties, which determine the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of their decomposition. Moreover, several environmental constraints obscure the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of substrate decomposition, causing lower observed 'apparent' temperature sensitivity, and these constraints may, themselves, be sensitive to climate.
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            Climate–Carbon Cycle Feedback Analysis: Results from the C4MIP Model Intercomparison

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              Persistence of soil organic matter as an ecosystem property.

              Globally, soil organic matter (SOM) contains more than three times as much carbon as either the atmosphere or terrestrial vegetation. Yet it remains largely unknown why some SOM persists for millennia whereas other SOM decomposes readily--and this limits our ability to predict how soils will respond to climate change. Recent analytical and experimental advances have demonstrated that molecular structure alone does not control SOM stability: in fact, environmental and biological controls predominate. Here we propose ways to include this understanding in a new generation of experiments and soil carbon models, thereby improving predictions of the SOM response to global warming.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                October 05 2017
                October 06 2017
                : 358
                : 6359
                : 101-105
                10.1126/science.aan2874
                © 2017

                http://www.sciencemag.org/about/science-licenses-journal-article-reuse

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