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National and sub-national assessments of soil organic carbon stocks and changes: The GEFSOC modelling system

Milne, E., Al Adamat, R., Batjes, N. H., Bernoux, M., Bhattacharyya, T., Cerri, C. C., Cerri, C. E. P., Coleman, K., Easter, M., Falloon, P., Feller, C., Gicheru, P., Kamoni, P., Killian, K., Pal, D. K., Paustian, K., Powlson, D. S., Rawajfih, Z., Sessay, M., Williams, S. and Wokabi, S. (2007) National and sub-national assessments of soil organic carbon stocks and changes: The GEFSOC modelling system. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 122 (1). pp. 3-12. ISSN 0167-8809

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2007.01.002


Soil organic carbon (SOC) plays a vital role in ecosystem function, determining soil fertility, water holding capacity and susceptibility to land degradation. In addition, SOC is related to atmospheric CO, levels with soils having the potential for C release or sequestration, depending on land use, land management and climate. The United Nations Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, and other United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification and on Biodiversity all recognize the importance of SOC and point to the need for quantification of SOC stocks and changes. An understanding of SOC stocks and changes at the national and regional scale is necessary to further our understanding of the global C cycle, to assess the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change and to aid policy makers in making land use/management decisions. Several studies have considered SOC stocks at the plot scale, but these are site specific and of limited value in making inferences about larger areas. Some studies have used empirical methods to estimate SOC stocks and changes at the regional scale, but such studies are limited in their ability to project future changes, and most have been carried out using temperate data sets. The computational method outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been used to estimate SOC stock changes at the regional scale in several studies, including a recent study considering five contrasting eco regions. This 'one step' approach fails to account for the dynamic manner in which SOC changes are likely to occur following changes in land use and land management. A dynamic modelling approach allows estimates to be made in a manner that accounts for the underlying processes leading to SOC change. Ecosystem models, designed for site scale applications can be linked to spatial databases, giving spatially explicit results that allow geographic areas of change in SOC stocks to be identified. Some studies have used variations on this approach to estimate SOC stock changes at the sub-national and national scale for areas of the USA and Europe and at the watershed scale for areas of Mexico and Cuba. However, a need remained for a national and regional scale, spatially explicit system that is generically applicable and can be applied to as wide a range of soil types, climates and land uses as possible. The Global Environment Facility Soil Organic Carbon (GEFSOC) Modelling System was developed in response to this need. The GEFSOC system allows estimates of SOC stocks and changes to be made for diverse conditions, providing essential information for countries wishing to take part in an emerging C market, and bringing us closer to an understanding of the future role of soils in the global C cycle. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:3811
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