PROGRAM TITLE: 	Soil Carbon Studies
ACTIVITY STREAMS: 	Observe/Data Mgt; Process; Assess
SCIENCE ELEMENT:  	Biogeochemical Cycles

 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Soil Conservation Service

DESCRIPTION:  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.