Global-scale evaluation of role of soil minerals in carbon storage

University of California – Santa Barbara Read ScienceDaily article here

Marc G. Kramer, Oliver A. Chadwick. Climate-driven thresholds in reactive mineral retention of soil carbon at the global scaleNature Climate Change, 2018; 8 (12): 1104 DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0341-4

One answer to our greenhouse gas challenges may be right under our feet: Soil scientists have found that minerals in soil can hold on to a significant amount of carbon pulled from the atmosphere. It’s a mechanism that could potentially be exploited as the world tries to shift its carbon economy. …

… Wetter climates are more conducive to formation of minerals that are effective at storing carbon, therefore much of the Earth’s estimated 600 billion metric tons of soil-bound carbon is found in the wet forests and tropical zones. Arid places, meanwhile, tend to have a “negative water balance” and can thus store far less organic carbon. According to Chadwick, the findings suggest that even a small, strategic change in the water balance could drive greater carbon storage.

… There is still a lot to investigate and several hurdles to overcome as soil scientists everywhere consider ways to tip the balance of the Earth’s soil from carbon source to carbon sink, but according to these researchers, understanding this relatively little-known but highly significant carbon storage pathway is a start.

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