Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 128–139 | Cite as

Assessment of frozen ground organic carbon pool on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

  • Lin Jiang
  • Huai ChenEmail author
  • Qiuan Zhu
  • Yanzheng Yang
  • Mingxu Li
  • Changhui Peng
  • Dan Zhu
  • Yixin He
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Under rapid climate change, soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamic in frozen ground may significantly influence terrestrial carbon cycles. The aim of this study was to investigate the storage, spatial patterns, and influencing factors of SOC in frozen ground on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which known as the earth’s Third Pole.

Materials and methods

Using the observed edaphic data from China’s Second National Soil Survey, we estimated the SOC storage (SOCS) of frozen ground (including permafrost, seasonally, and short time frozen ground) on the plateau with a depth of 0–3 m. Furthermore, the effect of vegetation and climate factors on spatial variance of SOC density (SOCD) was analyzed.

Results and discussion

The SOCD decreased from the southeastern to the northwestern part of the plateau, and increased with shorten of freezing duration. SOCS of permafrost, seasonally, and short time frozen ground were calculated as 40.9 (34.2–47.6), 26.7 (24.1–29.4), and 6 (5.6–6.4) Pg, making a total of 73.6 (63.9–83.3) Pg in 0–3 m depth on the plateau. Normalized difference vegetation index and mean annual precipitation could significantly affect the spatial distribution of SOC in permafrost and seasonally frozen ground.


The soil in plateau frozen ground contained substantial organic carbon, which could be affected by plant and climate variables. However, the heterogeneous landform may make the fate of carbon more complicated in the future.


Climate Deep soil Frozen ground Organic carbon Plateau permafrost Vegetation 



The authors give special thanks to Ms. Wan Xiong for her editing and valuable comments on the manuscript.

Funding information

This study was supported by the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDB-SSW-DQC007), the National Key R & D Program of China (2016YFC0501802), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570480, 41571220).

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2006_MOESM1_ESM.docx (993 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 993 kb)
11368_2018_2006_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (19 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lin Jiang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Huai Chen
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Qiuan Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yanzheng Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mingxu Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Changhui Peng
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Dan Zhu
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yixin He
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.College of ForestryNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of BiologyChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  4. 4.Zoige Peatland and Global Change Research StationChinese Academy of SciencesHongyuanChina
  5. 5.Department of Biology Science, Institute of Environment SciencesUniversity of Quebec at MontrealMontrealCanada

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