, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 181-189

Carbon storage in desertified lands: A case study from North China

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Based on the organic and carbonate carbon levels of the top 1 m of soil from desertified soils of Northern People's Republic of China, climatic and vegetative cover zones have been derived for some 334 000 km2 of desertification-prone lands. Regional accumulations of pedogenic carbonates were examined relative to precipitation, altitude, and temperature. The largest accumulations of pedogenic carbonates were found in Calcic soils in warm, arid areas. Accumulated organic carbon predominated in soils under Betula platyphylla. In the naturally desertified lands of China, for example, the top 1.0-m soil layer contains some 7.84 Pg of organic carbon and 14.9 Pg of carbonate carbon. Total stored carbon, including carbonate carbon, is 1.8-fold more than organic carbon alone. The carbon released through land desertification in China may be an important factor affecting changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases worldwide.