Skip to main content

Estimating Regional Changes in Soil Carbon with High Spatial Resolution...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Date
Page Numbers
285 to 294

To manage lands locally for carbon sequestration and for emissions reductions it is useful to have a system that can monitor and predict changes in soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions with high spatial resolution. We are developing a carbon accounting framework that can estimate carbon dynamics and net emissions associated with changes in land management. One component of this framework integrates field measurements, inventory data, and remote sensing products to estimate changes in soil carbon and to estimate where these changes are likely to occur at a sub-county (30m x 30m) resolution. We applied this framework component to a mid-western region of the US that consists of 679 counties approximately centered around Iowa. We estimate the 1990 baseline soil carbon to a maximum depth of 3m for this region to be 4,117 Tg C. Cumulative soil carbon accumulation of 70.3 Tg C is estimated for this region between 1991-2000, of which 33.8 Tg C is due to changes in tillage intensity. Without accounting for soil carbon loss following changes to more intensive tillage practices, our estimate increases to 45.0 Tg C. This difference indicates that on-site permanence of soil carbon associated with a change to less intensive tillage practices is approximately 75% if no additional economic incentives are provided for soil carbon sequestration practices. This carbon accounting framework offers a method to integrate inventory and remote sensing data on an annual basis and to transparently account for alternating annual trends in land management and associated carbon stocks and fluxes.