Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientist furthering discussion of soil carbon decomposition

09.03.2006


Study addresses feedbacks to climate change



Significantly more carbon is stored in the world’s soils than is present in the atmosphere. In a process called a "positive feedback," global warming may stimulate decomposition of soil organic matter, thus releasing heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere, possibly causing the rate of global warming to increase further. Disagreement exists, however, regarding the effects of climate change on global soil carbon stocks. Eric Davidson, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, has written a review paper that clarifies the issues regarding temperature sensitivity of decomposition within a framework that helps to focus the ensuing debate and research. Co-authored with Ivan Janssens of the University of Antwerpen (Belgium), the study is being published in an upcoming issue of Nature.

According to Dr. Davidson, interest in this topic is high because of its importance in the global carbon cycle and potential feedbacks to climate change. "The arctic, in particular, is experiencing very rapid warming, causing permafrost to melt and some peatlands to dry out, thus potentially exposing huge stocks of previously frozen and waterlogged carbon to decomposition. We need to understand how much of this carbon that is stored in soils, peatlands, and permafrost is susceptible to loss in a warmer world. If you unplug your refrigerator, you can demonstrate that your food, which is basically organic matter, spoils more quickly when it is warm. However, because the soil is a complex mixture of minerals and organic matter derived from plant leaves and roots, soil scientists and ecologists have had difficulty teasing out the conditions and types of organic matter that respond significantly to temperature changes." The review paper by Davidson and Janssens sets forth a description of how both the chemical complexity of carbon molecules and the soil conditions in which they are found determine the rates at which they decompose.


While most of the research results that Davidson and Janssens review come from studies of forests and farms in temperate regions, they conclude that research on the temperature sensitivity of decomposition should be broadened to include peatlands, wetlands and permafrost in boreal and arctic regions, where huge stocks of soil carbon are susceptible to a rapidly changing climate Davidson says, "We know that decomposition of organic matter responds to temperature, but we need to establish a common conceptual framework to demonstrate the ’what, where, and how fast’ of soil carbon decomposition. Hopefully, our paper will help clarify those issues and will stimulate more research where it is most urgently needed – the potential ’time bomb’ of decomposition of carbon in peatland and permafrost."

Davidson’s research on soil carbon has been funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and NASA.

Dr. Davidson is an ecologist and soil scientist interested in the role of soil microorganisms as processors of carbon and nitrogen. He has studied the transfer of carbon and nitrogen gases from the soil to the atmosphere, where they contribute to warming of the earth. His research addresses how human management of the land affects this transfer of greenhouse gases. Dr. Davidson has held positions as National Research Council Associate at the NASA Ames Research Center and as Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Soil Microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his doctorate in forestry at North Carolina State University.

Elizabeth Braun | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whrc.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>