Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change: How does soil store CO2?

08.01.2014
Carbon content in soil influences climate models

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to rise – in 2012 alone, 35.7 billion tons of this greenhouse gas entered the atmosphere*. Some of this CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, plants and soil. As such, they provide a significant reservoir of carbon, stemming the release of CO2.


Carbon tends to bind to specific rough mineral surfaces in the soil (yellow areas). (Image: C. Vogel/TUM)


New organic carbon mostly accumulates on existing hot spots. Left: Mineral surfaces with all accumulations of carbon (yellow). Right: Mineral surfaces with new organic substance (green and magenta). (Image: C. Vogel/TUM)

Scientists have now discovered how organic carbon is stored in soil. Basically, the carbon only binds to certain soil structures. This means that soil’s capacity to absorb CO2 needs to be re-assessed and incorporated into today’s climate models.

Previous studies have established that carbon binds to tiny mineral particles. In this latest study, published in Nature Communications, researchers of the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown that the surface of the minerals plays just as important a role as their size. “The carbon binds to minerals that are just a few thousandths of a millimeter in size – and it accumulates there almost exclusively on rough and angular surfaces,” explains Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, TUM Chair of Soil Science.

The role of microorganisms in sequestering carbon

It is presumed that the rough mineral surfaces provide an attractive habitat for microbes. These convert the carbon and play a part in binding it to minerals. “We discovered veritable hot spots with a high proportion of carbon in the soil,” relates Cordula Vogel, the lead author of the study. “Furthermore, new carbon binds to areas which already have a high carbon content.”

These carbon hot spots are, however, only found on around 20 percent of the mineral surfaces. It was previously assumed that carbon is evenly distributed in the soil. “Thanks to our study, we can now pin-point the soil that is especially good for sequestering CO2,” continues Kögel-Knabner. “The next step is to include these findings in carbon cycle models.”

Mass spectrometer helps to visualize molecules

The sample material used by the team was loess, a fertile agricultural soil found in all parts of the world – which makes it a very important carbon store. The researchers were able to take ultra-precise measurements using the NanoSIMS mass spectrometer. This procedure allowed them to view and compare even the most minute soil structures.

*Source: Global Carbon Atlas

Publication:
Submicron structures provide preferential spots for carbon and nitrogen sequestration in soils, Cordula Vogel, Carsten W. Müller, Carmen Höschen, Franz Buegger, Katja Heister, Stefanie Schulz, Michael Schloter & Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3947.
Contact:
Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
Technische Universität München
Chair of Soil Science
Tel: +49 8161 71-3677
koegel@wzw.tum.de

Barbara Wankerl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.soil-science.com/
http://www.tum.de

Further reports about: CO2 Climate change Nature Immunology Soil Soil Science TUM hot spots soil structure

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Volcanic eruption masked acceleration in sea level rise
26.08.2016 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Biomass turnover time in ecosystems is halved by land use
23.08.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab

26.08.2016 | Health and Medicine

Volcanic eruption masked acceleration in sea level rise

26.08.2016 | Earth Sciences

Moth takes advantage of defensive compounds in Physalis fruits

26.08.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>