Navigation Links
Soils in newly forested areas store substantial carbon that could help offset climate change
Date:4/1/2013

ANN ARBORSurface appearances can be so misleading: In most forests, the amount of carbon held in soils is substantially greater than the amount contained in the trees themselves.

If you're a land manager trying to assess the potential of forests to offset carbon emissions and climate change by soaking up atmospheric carbon and storing it, what's going on beneath the surface is critical.

But while scientists can precisely measure and predict the amount of above-ground carbon accumulating in a forest, the details of soil-carbon accounting have been a bit fuzzy.

Two University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues helped to plug that knowledge gap by analyzing changes in soil carbon that occurred when trees became established on different types of nonforested soils across the United States.

In a paper published online April 1 in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, they looked at lands previously used for surface mining and other industrial processes, former agricultural lands and native grasslands where forests have encroached.

U-M ecologist Luke Nave and his colleagues found that, in general, growing trees on formerly nonforested land increases soil carbon. Previous studies have been equivocal about the effects of so-called afforestation on soil carbon levels.

"Collectively, these results demonstrate that planting trees or allowing them to establish naturally on nonforested lands has a significant, positive effect on the amount of carbon held in soils," said Nave, an assistant research scientist at the U-M Biological Station and in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

"These forest soils represent a significant carbon reservoir that is helping to offset carbon emissions that lead to climate change," said Nave, lead author of the paper.

Large and rapid increases in soil carbon were observed on forested land that had previously been used for surface mining and related industrial processes. On a post-mining landscape, the amount of soil carbon generally doubled within 20 years of mining termination and continued to double every decade or so after that.

The changes after cultivated farm fields were abandoned and trees became established are much subtler, though still significant. This type of tree establishmentwhich has been widespread in recent decades in the northeastern United States and portions of the Midwesttakes about 40 years to cause a detectable increase in soil carbon.

But at the end of a century's time, the amount of soil carbon averages 15 percent higher than when the land was under cultivation, with the biggest increases (up to 32 percent) in the upper two inches of the soil.

In places where trees and shrubs have encroached into native grassland, soil carbon increased 31 percent after several decades, according to the study. That type of incursion is occurring throughout the Great Plains, from the Dakotas all the way to northern Texas, and is largely due to suppression of wildfires.

"Our work helps those tasked with understanding and managing the carbon balance of U.S. lands by putting a number on the changes in soil carbon that occur during this sort of land-use transition," Nave said.

Most of the organic carbon in forest soils comes from the growth and death of roots and their associated fungi, he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Warmer soils release additional CO2 into atmosphere; Effect stabilizes over longer term
2. Plants and soils could exacerbate climate change as global climate warms
3. Rising carbon dioxide in atmosphere also speeds carbon loss from forest soils, IU-led research finds
4. Logging debris gives newly planted Douglas-fir forests a leg-up
5. Newly identified natural protein blocks HIV, other deadly viruses
6. Newly discovered plant structure may lead to improved biofuel processing
7. Newly discovered scarecrow gene might trigger big boost in food production
8. Newly discovered effects of vitamin D on cancer
9. Newly demonstrated capabilities of low-powered nanotweezers may benefit cellular-level studies
10. Newly discovered letters and translated German ode expand Texas link to infamous Bone Wars
11. ORNLs newly licensed neutron detector will advance human disease research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/14/2017)... , Feb. 14, 2017  Wake Forest Baptist Medical ... its new chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag joins the ... John D. McConnell , M.D., who last year announced ... the Medical Center, after leading it since 2008.   ... scope of Wake Forest Baptist,s academic health system, which ...
(Date:2/13/2017)... 2017 Former 9/11 Commission border counsel and ... Janice Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP, today ... "Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist ... "As President Trump,s ,Travel Ban, Executive Order gains ... banned the travel ban, it is important that our ...
(Date:2/9/2017)... LONDON , Feb. 9, 2017 The ... in-depth analysis of the biomass boiler market globally in ... sales of biomass boilers. The market for biomass boilers ... product type, end-user, application, and country/region. The market based ... agriculture & forest residues, biogas & energy crops, urban ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... de novo clearance to begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the Brain Sentinel® Seizure ... at home or in healthcare facilities during periods of rest. A lightweight, non-invasive ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... David Nolte, PhD accepted Purdue ... Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, Indiana. , The top commercialization ... to, and success with, commercializing discoveries from Purdue research. “This award is truly ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... The Greater Gift Initiative, Inc , (GGI) ... Compass Research . GGI's mission is to advance global health and highlight the greater ... in honor of each clinical trial volunteer. The vision of GGI is to serve ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Feb. 23, 2017 Aviva Systems Biology ... the acquisition of GenWay Biotech Incorporated, a protein ... and product offering for both the research and ... growth and enhance capabilities for both entities. GenWay,s 18 ... assays will nicely complement ASB,s objective to become ...
Breaking Biology Technology: