Regular Article

Plant and Soil

, Volume 338, Issue 1, pp 261-272

First online:

Potential soil carbon sequestration in a semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystem under climate change: Quantifying management and climate effects

  • Jorge Álvaro-FuentesAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University Email author 
  • , Keith PaustianAffiliated withNatural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State UniversityDepartment of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Climate change is projected to significantly impact vegetation and soils of managed ecosystems. In this study we used the ecosystem Century model together with climatic outputs from different atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCM) to study the effects of climate change and management on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics in semiarid Mediterranean conditions and to identify which management practices have the greatest potential to increase SOC in these areas. Five climate scenarios and seven management scenarios were modeled from 2010 to 2100. Differences in SOC sequestration were greater among management systems than among climate change scenarios. Management scenarios under continuous cropping yielded greater C inputs and SOC gain than scenarios under cereal-fallow rotation. The shift from rainfed conditions to irrigation also resulted in an increase of C inputs but a decrease in the SOC sequestered during the 2010-2100 period. The effects of precipitation and temperature change on SOC dynamics were different depending on the management system applied. Consequently, the relative response to climate and management depended on the net result of the influences on C inputs and decomposition. Under climate change, the adoption of certain management practices in semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystems could be critical in maximizing SOC sequestration and thus reducing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.


Climate change Mediterranean systems Modeling Soil organic carbon Tillage