skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases

Abstract

Soil carbon has been measured for over a century in applications ranging from understanding biogeochemical processes in natural ecosystems to quantifying the productivity and health of managed systems. Consolidating diverse soil carbon datasets is increasingly important to maximize their value, particularly with growing anthropogenic and climate change pressures. In this progress discussion, we describe recent advances in soil carbon data led by the International Soil Carbon Network and other networks. We highlight priority areas of research requiring soil carbon data, including (a) quantifying boreal, arctic and wetland carbon stocks, (b) understanding the timescales of soil carbon persistence using radiocarbon and chronosequence studies, (c) synthesizing long-term and experimental data to inform carbon stock vulnerability to global change, (d) quantifying root influences on soil carbon and (e) identifying gaps in model–data integration. Furthermore, we describe the landscape of soil datasets currently available, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses and synergies. Now more than ever, integrated soil data are needed to inform climate mitigation, land management and agricultural practices. This report will aid new data users in navigating various soil databases and encourage scientists to make their measurements publicly available and to join forces to find soil-related solutions.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [1];  [8];  [9];  [1];  [10];  [11];  [12];  [1]
  1. Stanford Univ., CA (United States)
  2. Wilfrid Laurier Univ., Waterloo, ON (Canada)
  3. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  4. ISRIC – World Soil Information, Wageningen (Netherlands)
  5. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD (United States)
  6. Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Germany) ; Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  7. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  8. Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States)
  9. U.S. Geological Survey, Boulder, CO (United States)
  10. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  11. Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom)
  12. Stockholm Univ. (Sweden)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
OSTI Identifier:
1564214
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Progress in Physical Geography
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 43; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 0309-1333
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Soil carbon data; soil database; wetland carbon; soil chronosequence; soil radiocarbon; long-term ecological research; root traits; soil carbon stabilization; model–data integration

Citation Formats

Malhotra, Avni, Todd-Brown, Katherine, Nave, Lucas E., Batjes, Niels H., Holmquist, James R., Hoyt, Alison M., Iversen, Colleen M., Jackson, Robert B., Lajtha, Kate, Lawrence, Corey, Vindušková, Olga, Wieder, William, Williams, Mathew, Hugelius, Gustaf, and Harden, Jennifer. The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1177/0309133319873309.
Malhotra, Avni, Todd-Brown, Katherine, Nave, Lucas E., Batjes, Niels H., Holmquist, James R., Hoyt, Alison M., Iversen, Colleen M., Jackson, Robert B., Lajtha, Kate, Lawrence, Corey, Vindušková, Olga, Wieder, William, Williams, Mathew, Hugelius, Gustaf, & Harden, Jennifer. The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases. United States. doi:10.1177/0309133319873309.
Malhotra, Avni, Todd-Brown, Katherine, Nave, Lucas E., Batjes, Niels H., Holmquist, James R., Hoyt, Alison M., Iversen, Colleen M., Jackson, Robert B., Lajtha, Kate, Lawrence, Corey, Vindušková, Olga, Wieder, William, Williams, Mathew, Hugelius, Gustaf, and Harden, Jennifer. Sun . "The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases". United States. doi:10.1177/0309133319873309. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1564214.
@article{osti_1564214,
title = {The landscape of soil carbon data: Emerging questions, synergies and databases},
author = {Malhotra, Avni and Todd-Brown, Katherine and Nave, Lucas E. and Batjes, Niels H. and Holmquist, James R. and Hoyt, Alison M. and Iversen, Colleen M. and Jackson, Robert B. and Lajtha, Kate and Lawrence, Corey and Vindušková, Olga and Wieder, William and Williams, Mathew and Hugelius, Gustaf and Harden, Jennifer},
abstractNote = {Soil carbon has been measured for over a century in applications ranging from understanding biogeochemical processes in natural ecosystems to quantifying the productivity and health of managed systems. Consolidating diverse soil carbon datasets is increasingly important to maximize their value, particularly with growing anthropogenic and climate change pressures. In this progress discussion, we describe recent advances in soil carbon data led by the International Soil Carbon Network and other networks. We highlight priority areas of research requiring soil carbon data, including (a) quantifying boreal, arctic and wetland carbon stocks, (b) understanding the timescales of soil carbon persistence using radiocarbon and chronosequence studies, (c) synthesizing long-term and experimental data to inform carbon stock vulnerability to global change, (d) quantifying root influences on soil carbon and (e) identifying gaps in model–data integration. Furthermore, we describe the landscape of soil datasets currently available, highlighting their strengths, weaknesses and synergies. Now more than ever, integrated soil data are needed to inform climate mitigation, land management and agricultural practices. This report will aid new data users in navigating various soil databases and encourage scientists to make their measurements publicly available and to join forces to find soil-related solutions.},
doi = {10.1177/0309133319873309},
journal = {Progress in Physical Geography},
number = 5,
volume = 43,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 2 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Recent change of Arctic tundra ecosystems from a net carbon dioxide sink to a source
journal, February 1993

  • Oechel, Walter C.; Hastings, Steven J.; Vourlrtis, George
  • Nature, Vol. 361, Issue 6412
  • DOI: 10.1038/361520a0

Technologically achievable soil organic carbon sequestration in world croplands and grasslands
journal, November 2018

  • Batjes, Niels H.
  • Land Degradation & Development, Vol. 30, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/ldr.3209

Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter
journal, September 2017

  • Harden, Jennifer W.; Hugelius, Gustaf; Ahlström, Anders
  • Global Change Biology, Vol. 24, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13896

Evidence for the primacy of living root inputs, not root or shoot litter, in forming soil organic carbon
journal, August 2018

  • Sokol, Noah W.; Kuebbing, Sara. E.; Karlsen-Ayala, Elena
  • New Phytologist, Vol. 221, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1111/nph.15361

Tidal wetland stability in the face of human impacts and sea-level rise
journal, December 2013

  • Kirwan, Matthew L.; Megonigal, J. Patrick
  • Nature, Vol. 504, Issue 7478
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature12856

Carbon Budget of Tidal Wetlands, Estuaries, and Shelf Waters of Eastern North America
journal, March 2018

  • Najjar, R. G.; Herrmann, M.; Alexander, R.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 32, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1002/2017GB005790

Beyond clay: towards an improved set of variables for predicting soil organic matter content
journal, February 2018


The Ecology of Soil Carbon: Pools, Vulnerabilities, and Biotic and Abiotic Controls
journal, November 2017


Microbial formation of stable soil carbon is more efficient from belowground than aboveground input
journal, November 2018


Representing life in the Earth system with soil microbial functional traits in the MIMICS model
journal, January 2015

  • Wieder, W. R.; Grandy, A. S.; Kallenbach, C. M.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 8, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-8-1789-2015

Ecological Response to Permafrost Thaw and Consequences for Local and Global Ecosystem Services
journal, November 2018


Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback
journal, April 2015

  • Schuur, E. A. G.; McGuire, A. D.; Schädel, C.
  • Nature, Vol. 520, Issue 7546
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature14338

Coastal wetland management as a contribution to the US National Greenhouse Gas Inventory
journal, November 2018

  • Crooks, Stephen; Sutton-Grier, Ariana E.; Troxler, Tiffany G.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 8, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0345-0

A comprehensive global 5 min resolution land-use data set for the year 2000 consistent with national census data
journal, October 2007

  • Erb, Karl-Heinz; Gaube, Veronika; Krausmann, Fridolin
  • Journal of Land Use Science, Vol. 2, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1080/17474230701622981

Toward more realistic projections of soil carbon dynamics by Earth system models: SOIL CARBON MODELING
journal, January 2016

  • Luo, Yiqi; Ahlström, Anders; Allison, Steven D.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 30, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005239

Northern Peatlands: Role in the Carbon Cycle and Probable Responses to Climatic Warming
journal, May 1991

  • Gorham, Eville
  • Ecological Applications, Vol. 1, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.2307/1941811

Challenges and Opportunities of Open Data in Ecology
journal, February 2011


The International Land Model Benchmarking (ILAMB) System: Design, Theory, and Implementation
journal, November 2018

  • Collier, Nathan; Hoffman, Forrest M.; Lawrence, David M.
  • Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, Vol. 10, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018MS001354

Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security
journal, June 2004


WoSIS: providing standardised soil profile data for the world
journal, January 2017

  • Batjes, Niels H.; Ribeiro, Eloi; van Oostrum, Ad
  • Earth System Science Data, Vol. 9, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.5194/essd-9-1-2017

Restoring tides to reduce methane emissions in impounded wetlands: A new and potent Blue Carbon climate change intervention
journal, September 2017

  • Kroeger, Kevin D.; Crooks, Stephen; Moseman-Valtierra, Serena
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12138-4

Peatlands and the carbon cycle: from local processes to global implications – a synthesis
journal, January 2008


Good enough practices in scientific computing
journal, June 2017


Attributing the increase in atmospheric CO2 to emitters and absorbers
journal, July 2013

  • Ciais, P.; Gasser, T.; Paris, J. D.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 3, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1942

The Chronosequence Concept and Soil Formation
journal, December 1970

  • Stevens, P. R.; Walker, T. W.
  • The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 45, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1086/406646

Microbe-driven turnover offsets mineral-mediated storage of soil carbon under elevated CO2
journal, November 2014

  • Sulman, Benjamin N.; Phillips, Richard P.; Oishi, A. Christopher
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 4, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2436

Improving understanding of soil organic matter dynamics by triangulating theories, measurements, and models
journal, July 2018

  • Blankinship, Joseph C.; Berhe, Asmeret Asefaw; Crow, Susan E.
  • Biogeochemistry, Vol. 140, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10533-018-0478-2

A Canadian upland forest soil profile and carbon stocks database
journal, March 2018

  • Shaw, Cindy; Hilger, Arlene; Filiatrault, Michelle
  • Ecology, Vol. 99, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2159

Radiocarbon constraints imply reduced carbon uptake by soils during the 21st century
journal, September 2016


SoilGrids250m: Global gridded soil information based on machine learning
journal, February 2017


Effects of permafrost aggradation on peat properties as determined from a pan-Arctic synthesis of plant macrofossils: Permafrost Effects on Peat Properties
journal, January 2016

  • Treat, C. C.; Jones, M. C.; Camill, P.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 121, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1002/2015JG003061

Post-thaw variability in litter decomposition best explained by microtopography at an ice-rich permafrost peatland
journal, January 2018


An open source database for the synthesis of soil radiocarbon data: ISRaD version 1.0
journal, May 2019

  • Lawrence, Corey R.; Beem-Miller, Jeffery; Hoyt, Alison M.
  • Earth System Science Data Discussions
  • DOI: 10.5194/essd-2019-55

Accuracy and Precision of Tidal Wetland Soil Carbon Mapping in the Conterminous United States
journal, June 2018

  • Holmquist, James R.; Windham-Myers, Lisamarie; Bliss, Norman
  • Scientific Reports, Vol. 8, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-26948-7

The Fate of Root Carbon in Soil: Data and Model Gaps
journal, December 2018


The decadal state of the terrestrial carbon cycle: Global retrievals of terrestrial carbon allocation, pools, and residence times
journal, January 2016

  • Bloom, A. Anthony; Exbrayat, Jean-François; van der Velde, Ivar R.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515160113

Soil Organic Matter Persistence as a Stochastic Process: Age and Transit Time Distributions of Carbon in Soils
journal, October 2018

  • Sierra, Carlos A.; Hoyt, Alison M.; He, Yujie
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 32, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018GB005950

Ecosystem Properties and Forest Decline in Contrasting Long-Term Chronosequences
journal, July 2004


Isolating organic carbon fractions with varying turnover rates in temperate agricultural soils – A comprehensive method comparison
journal, October 2018


Reviews and syntheses: Changing ecosystem influences on soil thermal regimes in northern high-latitude permafrost regions
journal, January 2018

  • Loranty, Michael M.; Abbott, Benjamin W.; Blok, Daan
  • Biogeosciences, Vol. 15, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.5194/bg-15-5287-2018

Soil organic carbon pools in the northern circumpolar permafrost region: SOIL ORGANIC CARBON POOLS
journal, June 2009

  • Tarnocai, C.; Canadell, J. G.; Schuur, E. A. G.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 23, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2008GB003327