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The Ecology of Soil Carbon: Pools, Vulnerabilities, and Biotic and Abiotic Controls

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      Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth

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        Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security.

         R. Lal (2004)
        The carbon sink capacity of the world's agricultural and degraded soils is 50 to 66% of the historic carbon loss of 42 to 78 gigatons of carbon. The rate of soil organic carbon sequestration with adoption of recommended technologies depends on soil texture and structure, rainfall, temperature, farming system, and soil management. Strategies to increase the soil carbon pool include soil restoration and woodland regeneration, no-till farming, cover crops, nutrient management, manuring and sludge application, improved grazing, water conservation and harvesting, efficient irrigation, agroforestry practices, and growing energy crops on spare lands. An increase of 1 ton of soil carbon pool of degraded cropland soils may increase crop yield by 20 to 40 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha) for wheat, 10 to 20 kg/ha for maize, and 0.5 to 1 kg/ha for cowpeas. As well as enhancing food security, carbon sequestration has the potential to offset fossil fuel emissions by 0.4 to 1.2 gigatons of carbon per year, or 5 to 15% of the global fossil-fuel emissions.
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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
            Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
            Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst.
            Annual Reviews
            1543-592X
            1545-2069
            November 02 2017
            November 02 2017
            : 48
            : 1
            : 419-445
            10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054234
            © 2017

            http://www.annualreviews.org/licenses/tdm

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