Plant and Soil

, Volume 338, Issue 1–2, pp 261–272 | Cite as

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

  • Jorge Álvaro-FuentesEmail author
  • Keith Paustian
Regular Article


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 



atmosphere-ocean general circulation models




continuous barley




conventional tillage




soil organic carbon


soil organic matter


straw removal



We would like to thank Mark Easter and Stephen Williams for helping and assistance on modeling. Jorge Álvaro-Fuentes was awarded with a Beatriu de Pinós Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Comissionat per a Universitats i Recerca del Departament d’Innovació, Universitats i Empresa, of the Generalitat de Catalunya.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil and Crop SciencesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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