PROGRAM TITLE: Soil Carbon Studies ACTIVITY STREAMS: Observe/Data Mgt; Process; Assess SCIENCE ELEMENT:
Biogeochemical Cycles U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Soil Conservation ServiceDESCRIPTION: Field sampling, laboratory characterization, spatial distribution patterns at varying scales, compilation of existing data bases, and preparation of maps depicting various aspects of soil carbon comprise most of the activities underway. Reassessment of soil profile data from the U.S. and from many other countries is leading to refined estimates of current carbon storage in soils. Special attention to improve our information on soils affected by permafrost is underway with Canadian and Russian soil scientists. Providing soil characterization information for other GC scientists, e.g. LTERs, IGBP-DB, is of great importance as we are the only soil survey in the U.S. Some preliminary studies are underway to partition soil organic carbon into activity classes to assist terrestrial modelers and those who synthesize a global carbon cycle. Global soil carbon maps and associated attribute files by soil taxonomic classes are now available for use by others. Detailed studies of local site variability are being interpreted for improving extrapolations of existing point data. National and regional maps are being prepared and sent out for cross checking by other soil scientists. Interaction with soil scientists throughout the world is very encouraging. STAKEHOLDERS: The primary beneficiaries are intended to be global change scientists who need, or desire, soil and soil-related information. Improved and refined estimates of carbon stored in soils, and use of soil survey information are ways we try to assist them. Databases will become part of IGBP-DB (data base) on soils for global use. Assessment of where soil sinks and sources can be better utilized or managed will be done cooperatively with modelers and others who work on mitigation strategies. SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS: Soil carbon maps quickly portray where and how much carbon is involved throughout the world that can serve as sinks and sources. Refined data on the Permafrost Regions assist in assessing potentials for environmental degradation and/or sensitivity; U.S. benefits from experience of Russians in interpreting these environments. Leverage for additional cooperation on scientific endeavors.