Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 510188
Title Quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming
Author(s) Crowther, T.W.; Todd-Brown, K.E.O.; Rowe, C.W.; Wieder, W.R.; Carey, J.C.; Machmuller, M.B.; Snoek, B.L.; Fang, S.; Zhou, G.; Allison, S.D.; Blair, J.M.; Bridgham, S.D.; Burton, A.J.; Carrillo, Y.; Reich, P.B.; Clark, J.S.; Classen, A.T.; Dijkstra, F.A.; Elberling, B.; Emmett, B.A.; Estiarte, M.; Frey, S.D.; Guo, J.; Harte, J.; Jiang, L.; Johnson, B.R.; Kröel-Dulay, G.; Larsen, K.S.; Laudon, H.; Lavallee, J.M.; Luo, Y.; Lupascu, M.; Ma, L.N.; Marhan, S.; Michelsen, A.; Mohan, J.; Niu, S.; Pendall, E.; Peñuelas, J.; Pfeifer-Meister, L.; Poll, C.; Reinsch, S.; Reynolds, L.L.; Schmidt, I.K.; Sistla, S.; Sokol, N.W.; Templer, P.H.; Treseder, K.K.; Welker, J.M.; Bradford, M.A.
Source Nature 540 (2016)7631. - ISSN 0028-0836 - p. 104 - 108.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/nature20150
Department(s) Laboratory of Nematology
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Abstract The majority of the Earth’s terrestrial carbon is stored in the soil. If anthropogenic warming stimulates the loss of this carbon to the atmosphere, it could drive further planetary warming. Despite evidence that warming enhances carbon fluxes to and from the soil the net global balance between these responses remains uncertain. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of warming-induced changes in soil carbon stocks by assembling data from 49 field experiments located across North America, Europe and Asia. We find that the effects of warming are contingent on the size of the initial soil carbon stock, with considerable losses occurring in high-latitude areas. By extrapolating this empirical relationship to the global scale, we provide estimates of soil carbon sensitivity to warming that may help to constrain Earth system model projections. Our empirical relationship suggests that global soil carbon stocks in the upper soil horizons will fall by 30 ± 30 petagrams of carbon to 203 ± 161 petagrams of carbon under one degree of warming, depending on the rate at which the effects of warming are realized. Under the conservative assumption that the response of soil carbon to warming occurs within a year, a business-as-usual climate scenario would drive the loss of 55 ± 50 petagrams of carbon from the upper soil horizons by 2050. This value is around 12–17 per cent of the expected anthropogenic emissions over this period. Despite the considerable uncertainty in our estimates, the direction of the global soil carbon response is consistent across all scenarios. This provides strong empirical support for the idea that rising temperatures will stimulate the net loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere, driving a positive land carbon–climate feedback that could accelerate climate change.
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