Establishing a European GCTE Soil Organic Matter Network (SOMNET)

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Soil organic matter (SOM) is recognised as being of critical importance as a source and sink of carbon in the biosphere. As a result, research into predicting the effects of global environmental change on soil organic matter has been identified as a high priority within the Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE) programme of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The objectives of GCTE Task 3.3.1., “Soil Organic Matter” require that a global network of SOM modellers and experimenters be established. This global soil organic matter network (SOMNET) will comprise a number of regional networks, one of which will be the European GCTE SOMNET.

The European GCTE SOMNET will provide a forum soil organic matter researchers to share models and datasets, and will establish a database system will comprise a central metadata database linked via the World-Wide-Web to many other European databases containing quality-controlled data in standard format.

The data from long-term experiments that exits in Europe that could be made available by the European GCTE SOMNET is estimated to have cost, in 1989 terms, nearly $ 140,000,000 to collect.

In this paper we describe the progress so far made in establishing the European GCTE SOMNET and outline some of the activities planned for the next few years to build the European SOM network and its associated database system.