, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 816-827
Date: 08 Aug 2006

The Potential Impact of Agricultural Management and Climate Change on Soil Organic Carbon of the North Central Region of the United States

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Abstract

Soil organic carbon (SOC) represents a significant pool of carbon within the biosphere. Climatic shifts in temperature and precipitation have a major influence on the decomposition and amount of SOC stored within an ecosystem. We have linked net primary production algorithms, which include the impact of enhanced atmospheric CO2 on plant growth, to the Soil Organic Carbon Resources And Transformations in EcoSystems (SOCRATES) model to develop a SOC map for the North Central Region of the United States between the years 1850 and 2100 in response to agricultural activity and climate conditions generated by the CSIRO Mk2 Global Circulation Model (GCM) and based on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) IS92a emission scenario. We estimate that the current day (1990) stocks of SOC in the top 10 cm of the North Central Region to be 4692 Mt, and 8090 Mt in the top 20 cm of soil. This is 19% lower than the pre-settlement steady state value predicted by the SOCRATES model. By the year 2100, with temperature and precipitation increasing across the North Central Region by an average of 3.9°C and 8.1 cm, respectively, SOCRATES predicts SOC stores of the North Central Region to decline by 11.5 and 2% (in relation to 1990 values) for conventional and conservation tillage scenarios, respectively.