Spatially explicit knowledge of recent and past soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in forests will improve our understanding of the effect of human- and non-human-induced changes on forest C fluxes. For SOC accounting, a minimum detectable difference must be defined in order to adequately determine temporal changes and spatial differences in SOC. This requires sufficiently detailed data to predict SOC stocks at appropriate scales within the required accuracy so that only significant changes are accounted for. When designing sampling campaigns, taking into account factors influencing SOC spatial and temporal distribution (such as soil type, topography, climate and vegetation) are needed to optimise sampling depths and numbers of samples, thereby ensuring that samples accurately reflect the distribution of SOC at a site. Furthermore, the appropriate scales related to the research question need to be defined: profile, plot, forests, catchment, national or wider. Scaling up SOC stocks from point sample to landscape unit is challenging, and thus requires reliable baseline data. Knowledge of the associated uncertainties related to SOC measures at each particular scale and how to reduce them is crucial for assessing SOC stocks with the highest possible accuracy at each scale. This review identifies where potential sources of errors and uncertainties related to forest SOC stock estimation occur at five different scales—sample, profile, plot, landscape/regional and European. Recommendations are also provided on how to reduce forest SOC uncertainties and increase efficiency of SOC assessment at each scale.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abella, S. R., & Zimmer, B. W. (2007). Estimating organic carbon from loss-on-ignition in northern Arizona forest soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 71, 545–550.
Arrouays, D., Deslais, W., & Badeau, V. (2001). The carbon content of topsoil and its geographical distribution in France. Soil Use and Management, 17, 7–11.
Bárcena, T. G., Gundersen, P., & Vesterdal, L. (2014). Afforestation effects on SOC in former cropland: oak and spruce chronosequences resampled after 13 years. Global Change Biology, 20, 2938–2952.
Baritz, R., & Van Ranst, E. (2006). CarboInvent. Methodological standards to detect forest soil carbon stocks and stock changes related to land use change and forestry: Part I: plot level aspects. Final report (Deliverable 3.5), Doc. No: WP3-D3.5-Plot RUG, Issue/Rev.: 1.0.
Baritz, R., Adler, G., Wolff, B., & Wilke, B. M. (1999). Carbon in German forest soils and its relation to climate change. Zeitschrift für Angewandte Geologie, 45, 218–227.
Baritz, R., Zirlewagen, D., & Van Ranst, E. (2006). CarboInvent. Methodological standards to detect forest soil carbon stocks and stock changes related to land use change and forestry: Part II—landscape level. Final report (Deliverable 3.5). Doc. No: WP3-D3.5-Landscape RUG, Issue/Rev.: 2.0.
Baritz, R., Eberhardt, E., Van Liedekerke, M.H., & Panagos, P. (2008). Environmental assessment of soil for monitoring: Volume III database design and selection. EUR 23490 EN/3 Office for the Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 125 pp. doi:10.2788/93697.
Baritz, R., Seufert, G., Montanarella, L., & Van Ranst, E. (2010). Carbon concentrations and stocks in forest soils of Europe. Forest Ecology and Management, 260, 262–277.
Bastrup-Birk, A., Neville, P., Chirici, G. & Houston, T. (2007). The BioSoil Forest Biodiversity Field Manual. Hamburg: ICP Forests.
Batjes, N. H. (1996). Total carbon and nitrogen in the soils of the world. European Journal of Soil Science, 47, 151–163.
Batjes, N. H. (2002). Carbon and nitrogen stocks in the soils of Central and Eastern Europe. Soil Use and Management, 18, 324–329.
Bellamy, P. H., Loveland, P. J., Bradley, R. I., Lark, R. M., & Kirk, G. J. D. (2005). Carbon losses from all soils across England and Wales 1978-2003. Nature, 437, 245–248.
Bellhouse, D. R. (1977). Some optimal designs for sampling in two dimensions. Biometrika, 64, 605–611.
Bellhouse, D.R. (1988). In P. R. Krisnaiah, & C.R. Rao (Ed.), Systematic sampling, Handbook of statistics, vol. 6 (pp. 125–146). North-Holland.
Benham, S. E., Vanguelova, E. I., & Pitman, R. M. (2012). Short and long term changes in carbon, nitrogen and acidity in the forest soils under oak at the Alice Holt Environmental Change Network site. Science of the Total Environment, 421-422, 82–93.
Berg, B., Johansson, M.-B., Nilsson, Å., Gundersen, P., & Norell, L. (2009). Sequestration of carbon in the humus layer of Swedish forests—direct measurements. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 39, 962–975.
Bernoux, M., Arrouays, D., Cerri, C., Volkoff, B., & Jolivet, C. (1998). Bulk densities of Brazilian Amazon soils related to other soil properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 62, 743–749.
Bhatti, J. S., & Bauer, I. E. (2002). Comparing loss-on-ignition with dry combustion as a method for determining carbon content in upland and lowland forest ecosystems. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 33, 3419–3430.
Bishop, T. F. A., McBratney, A. B., & Laslett, G. M. (1999). Modelling soil attribute depth functions with equal-area quadratic smoothing splines. Geoderma, 91, 27–45.
Blake, G.R., & Hartge, K.N. (1986). Bulk density. In A. Klute (Ed.), Methods of soil analysis, Part 1: physical and mineralogical methods, 2nd Edn. SSSA Book Series 5 (pp. 363–375). Madison.
Blake, L., Goulding, K. W. T., Mott, C. J. B., & Poulton, P. R. (2000). Temporal changes in chemical properties of air-dried stored soils and their interpretation for long-term experiments. European Journal of Soil Science, 51, 345–353.
Bonifacio, E., Falsone, G., Simonov, G., & Celi, L. (2008). Estimates of C stocks and pedogenic processes in the Russian Taiga. Advances in GeoEcology, 39, 301–312.
Bonifacio, E., Falsone, G., & Petrillo, M. (2011). Humus forms, organic matter stocks and carbon fractions in forest soils of North-western Italy. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 47, 555–566.
Bradley, R. I., Milne, R., Bell, J., Lilly, A., Jordan, C., & Higgins, A. (2005). A soil carbon and land use database for the United Kingdom. Soil Use and Management, 21, 363–369.
Callesen, I., Liski, J., Raulund-Rasmussen, K., Olsson, M. T., Tau-Strand, L., Vesterdal, L., & Westman, C. J. (2003). Soil carbon stores in Nordic well-drained forest soils—relationships with climate and texture class. Global Change Biology, 9, 358–370.
Cannell, M. G. R., Dewar, R. C., & Thornley, J. H. M. (1992). Carbon flux and storage in European forest. In A. Teller, P. Mathy, & J. N. R. Je_ers (Eds.), Responses of forest ecosystems to environmental changes (pp. 256–271). London: Elsevier.
Chamberlain, P. M., Emmett, B. A., Scott, W. A., Black, H. I. J., Hornung, M., & Frogbrook, Z. L. (2010). No change in topsoil carbon levels of Great Britain, 1978–2007. Biogeosciences Discussions, 7, 2267–2311.
Chapman, S. J., Bell, J., Donnelly, D., & Lilly, A. (2009). Carbon stocks in Scottish peatlands. Soil Use and Management, 25, 105–112.
Cienciala, E., Seufert, G., Blujdea, V., Grassi, G., & Exnerová, Z. (2010). Harmonized methods for assessing carbon sequestration in European forests Results of the Project “Study under EEC 2152/2003 Forest Focus regulation on developing harmonized methods for assessing carbon sequestration in European forests”, JRC Scientific and Technical reports.
Conant, R. T., Smith, G. R., & Paustian, K. (2003). Spatial variability of soil carbon in forested and cultivated sites: implications for change detection. Journal of Environmental Quality, 32, 278–286.
Conen, F., Zerva, A., Arrouays, D., Jolivet, C., Jarvis, P., Grace, J., & Mencuccini, M. (2004). The carbon balance of forest soils; detectability of changes in soil carbon stocks in temperate and boreal forests. In H. Griffith & P. Jarvis (Eds.), The carbon balance of forest biomes (pp. 233–247). Oxford: Bios Scientific Press.
Cools, N., & De Vos, B. (2010). Sampling and Analysis of Soil. Manual Part X, 208 pp. In Manual on methods and criteria for harmonized sampling, assessment, monitoring and analysis of the effects of air pollution on forests. UNECE, ICP Forests, Hamburg. [http://www.icp-forests.org/Manual.htm].
Cools, N. & De Vos, B. (2013) Forest soil: Characterization, sampling, physical, and chemical analyses. In “Forest monitoring — methods for terrestrial investigations in Europe with an overview of North America and Asia”. Chapter 15. M. Ferretti and R. Fischer (Eds.). Developments in Environmental Science, 12, 267–300.
Cools, N., Mikkelsen, J. H., & De Vos, B. (2008). Soil organic carbon stocks and stock changes on Flemish level I and level II plots. FSCC supporting study of the EU Forest Focus BioSoil demonstration project. INBO.IR.2008.50. Brussels: Research Institute for Nature and Forest.
Corti, G., Ugolini, F. C., & Agnelli, A. (1998). Classing the soil skeleton (greater than two millimeters): proposed approach and procedure. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 62, 1620–1629.
Cresser, M. S., Gonzalez, R. L., & Leon, A. (2007). Evaluation of the use of soil depth and parent material data when predicting soil organic carbon concentration from LOI values. Geoderma, 140, 132–139.
Davidson, E. A., & Janssens, I. A. (2006). Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change. Nature, 440, 165–173.
De Vos, B. (2009). Uncertainties of forest soil carbon stock assessment in Flanders. Doctoral dissertation no. 865 of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. K.U.Leuven. 318 p.
De Vos, B., Vandecasteele, B., Deckers, J., & Muys, B. (2005a). Capability of loss-on-ignition as a predictor of total organic carbon in non-calcareous forest soils. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 36, 2899–2921.
De Vos, B., Van Meirvenne, M., Quataert, P., Deckers, J., & Muys, B. (2005b). Predictive quality of pedotransfer functions for estimating bulk density of forest soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 69, 500–510.
De Vos, B., Lettens, S., Muys, B., & Deckers, S. (2007). Walkley-Black analysis of forest soil organic carbon: recovery, limitations and uncertainty. Soil Use and Management, 23, 221–229.
De Vos, B., Cools, N., Ilvesniemi, H., Vesterdal, L., Vanguelova, E., & Carnicelli, S. (2015). Benchmark values for forest soil carbon stocks in Europe: results from a large scale forest soil survey. Geoderma, 251-252, 33–46.
De Vries, W., Reinds, G.J., Van Kerkvoorde, M.S., Hendriks, C.M.A., Leeters, E.E.J.M., Gross, C.P., Voogd, J.C.H., & Vel, E.M. (2000). Intensive monitoring of forest ecosystems in Europe. Technical report 2000. EC-UN/ECE (2000) and Forest Intensive Monitoring Coordinating Institute (FIMCI), Brussels, Geneva, 191 pp.
De Vries, W., Reinds, G.J., Posch, M., Sanz, M.J., Krause, G.H.M., Calatayud, V., Renaud, J.P., Dupouey, J.L., Sterba, H., Vel, E.M., Dobbertin, M., Gundersen, P., & Voogd, J.C.H. (2003). Intensive monitoring of forest ecosystems in Europe, 2003. Technical Report. EC/UN-ECE 2003, Brussels, Geneva, 163 pp.
Dixon, R. K., Brown, S., Houghton, R. A., Solomon, A. M., Trexler, M. C., & Wisniewski, J. (1994). Carbon pools and fluxes of global forest ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment, 263, 185–190.
Ellert, B. H., Janzen, H. H., & McConkey, B. G. (2001). Measuring and comparing soil carbon storage. In R. Lal, J. M. Kimble, R. F. Follett, & B. A. Stewart (Eds.), Assessment methods for soil carbon (pp. 131–1465). Boca Raton: CRC Press.
FAO (2006). Guidelines for soil profile description and classification (4th ed.). Rome: Food and 773 Agriculture Organisation.
Fernández-Romero, M. L., Lozano-García, B., & Parras-Alcántara, L. (2014). Topography and land use change effects on the soil organic carbon stock of forest soils in Mediterranean natural areas. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 195, 1–9.
Finér, L., Helmisaari, H.–S., Lõhmus, K., Majdi, H., Brunner, I., Børja, I., et al. (2007). Variation in fine root biomass of three European tree species: Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Plant Biosystems, 141, 394–405.
Frogbrook, Z. L., Bell, J., Bradley, R. I., Evans, C., Lark, R. M., Reynolds, B., Smith, P., & Towers, W. (2009). Quantifying terrestrial carbon stocks: examining the spatial variation in two upland areas in the UK and a comparison to mapped estimates of soil carbon. Soil Use and Management, 25, 320–332.
Goidts, E., Van Wesemael, B., & Crucifix, M. (2009). Magnitude and sources of uncertainties in soil organic carbon (SOC) stock assessments at various scales. European Journal of Soil Science, 60, 723–739.
Goodale, C. L., Apps, M. J., Birdsey, R. A., et al. (2002). Forest carbon sinks in the northern hemisphere. Ecological Applications, 12, 891–899.
Grace, J. (2004). Understanding and managing the global carbon cycle. Journal of Ecology, 92, 189–202.
Grewal, K. S., Buchan, G. D., & Sherlock, R. R. (1991). A comparison of three methods of organic carbon determination in some New Zealand soils. Journal of Soil Science, 42, 251–257.
Griffiths, R. P., Madritch, M. D., & Swanson, A. K. (2009). The effects of topography on forest soil characteristics in the Oregon Cascade Mountains (USA): implications for the effects of climate change on soil properties. Forest Ecology and Management, 257, 1–7.
Grüneberg, E., Schöning, I., Kalko, E. K. V., & Weisser, W. W. (2010). Regional organic carbon stock variability: a comparison between depth increments and soil horizons. Geoderma, 155, 426–433.
Häkkinen, M., Heikkinen, J., & Mäkipää, R. (2011). Soil carbon stock increases in the organic layer of boreal middle-aged stands. Biogeoscience, 8, 1279–1289.
Hansen, K., Vesterdal, L., Schmidt, I. K., Gundersen, P., Sevel, L., Bastrup-Birk, A., Pedersen, L. B., & Bille-Hansen, J. (2009). Litterfall and nutrient return in five tree species in a common garden experiment. Forest Ecology and Management, 257, 2133–2144.
Harrison, A. F., & Bocock, K. L. (1981). Estimation of soil bulk-density from loss-on-ignition values. Journal of Applied Ecology, 8, 919–927.
Harrison, R. B., Adams, A. B., Licata, C., Flaming, B., Wagoner, G. L., Carpenter, P., & Vance, E. D. (2003). Quantifying deep-soil and coarse-soil fractions: avoiding sampling bias. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 67, 1602–1606.
Heim, A., Wehrli, L., Eugster, W., & Schmidt, M. W. I. (2009). Effects of sampling design on the probability to detect soil carbon stock changes at the Swiss CarboEurope site Lägeren. Geoderma, 149, 347–354.
Hoosbeek, M. R., & Scarascia-Mugnozza, G. E. (2009). Increased litter build up and soil organic mattter stabilization in a poplar plantation after 6 years of atmospheric CO2 enrichment (FACE): final results of POP-EuroFACE compared to other forest FACE experiments. Ecosystems, 12, 220–239. doi:10.1007/s10021-008-9219-z.
Hopkins, D. W., Waite, I. S., McNicol, J. W., Poulton, P. R., Macdonald, A. J., & O'Donnell, A. G. (2009). Soil organic carbon contents in long-term experimental grassland plots in the UK (Palace Leas and Park Grass) have not changed consistently in recent decades. Global Change Biology, 15, 1739–1754.
Howard, P. J. A., Loveland, P. J., Bradley, R. I., Dry, F. T., Howard, D. M., & Howard, D. C. (1995). The carbon content of soil and its geographical distribution in Great Britain. Soil Use and Management, 11, 9–15.
Howard, P. J. A., Howard, D. M., & Lowe, L. E. (1998). Effects of tree species and soil physico-chemical conditions on the nature of soil organic matter. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 30, 285–297.
IPCC (2000). In R. T. Watson, I. R. Noble, B. Bolin, N. H. Ravindranath, D. J. Verardo, & D. J. Dokken (Eds.), Land use, land-use change, and forestry (p. 375). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
IPCC (2003). In J. Penman et al. (Eds.), Available online at http://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/gpglulucf/gpglulucf.htm. August 13, 2004 Good practice guidance for land use, land-use change, and forestry. National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, the intergovernmental panel on climate change.
IPCC (2006). IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, The Intergovernmental panel on climate change. In H. S. Eggleston, L. Buendia, K. Miwa, T. Ngara, & K. Tanabe (Eds.), Hayama.
ISO (1994). ISO 11464, Soil Quality – Pretreatment of samples for physico-chemical analysis. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, pp. 9
Jalabert, S. S. M., Martin, M. P., Renaud, J. P., Boulonne, L., Jolivet, C., Montanarella, L., & Arrouays, D. (2010). Estimating forest soil bulk density using boosted regression modelling. Soil Use and Management, 26, 516–528.
Jandl, R., Rodeghiero, M., Martinez, C., Cotrufo, M. F., Bampa, F., Wesemael, B., Harrison, R. B., Guerrini, I. A., Richter Jr., D., Rustad, L., Lorenz, K., Chabbi, A., & Miglietta, F. (2014). Current status, uncertainty and future needs in soil organic carbon monitoring. Science of the Total Environment, 468-469, 376–383.
Jian-Bing, W., Du-Ning, X., Xing-Yi, Z., Xiu-Zhen, L., & Xiao-Yu, L. (2006). Spatial variability of soil organic carbon in relation to environmental factors of a typical small watershed in the black soil region, Northeast China. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 121, 597–613.
Jobbágy, E. G., & Jackson, R. B. (2000). The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation. Ecological Applications, 10, 423–436.
Jolivet, C., Arrouays, D., & Bernoux, M. (1998). Comparison between analytical methods for organic carbon and organic matter determination in sandy spodosols of France. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 29, 2227–2233.
Jones, R. J. A., Hiederer, R., Rusco, E., & Montanarella, L. (2005). Estimating organic carbon in the soils of Europe for policy support. European Journal of Soil Science, 56, 655–671.
Jungkunst, H. F., Flessa, H., Scherber, C., & Fiedler, S. (2008). Groundwater level controls CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes of three different hydromorphic soil types of a temperate forest ecosystem. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 40, 2047–2054.
Kasozi, G. N., Nkedi-Kizza, P., & Harris, W. G. (2009). Varied carbon content of organic matter in histosols, spodosols, and carbonatic soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 73, 1313–1318.
Kirwan, N., Oliver, M. A., Moffat, A. J., & Morgan, G. W. (2005). Sampling the soil in long-term forest plots: The implications of spatial variation. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 111(1-3), 149–172.
Kobal, M., Urbancic, M., Potocic, N., De Vos, B., & Simoncic, P. (2011). Pedotransfer functions for bulk density estimation of forest soils. Sumarski List, 135, 19–27.
Komy, Z. R. (1995). Comparative-study of titrimetric and gravimetric methods for the determination of organic-carbon in soils. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 60, 41–47.
Krebs, C. J. (1999). Ecological methodology. Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley Longman.
Kulmatiski, A., Vogt, D. J., Siccama, T. G., & Beard, K. H. (2003). Detecting nutrient pool changes in rocky forest soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 67, 1282–1286.
Lal, R. (2005). Forest soils and carbon sequestration. Forest Ecology and Management, 220, 242–258.
Lal, R. (2008). Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools. Energy & Environmental Science, 1, 86–100.
Lettens, S., Van Orshoven, J., Van Wesemael, B., & Muys, B. (2004). Soil organic and inorganic carbon content of landscape units in Belgium for 1950–1970. Soil Use and Management, 20, 40–47.
Lettens, S., Van Orshoven, J., Van Wesemael, B., De Vos, B., & Muys, B. (2005). Stocks and fluxes of soil organic carbon for landscape units in Belgium derived from heterogeneous data sets for 1990 and 2000. Geoderma, 127, 11–23.
Lettens, S., De Vos, B., Quataert, P., van Wesemael, B., Muys, B., & Van Orshoven, J. (2007). Variable carbon recovery of Walkley-Black analysis and implications for national soil organic carbon accounting. European Journal of Soil Science, 58, 1244–1253.
Liski, J. (1995). Variation in soil organic carbon and thickness of soil horizons within a boreal forest stand-effect of trees and implications for sampling. Silva Fennica, 29, 255–266.
Liski, J., & Westman, C. J. (1997). Carbon storage in forest soils of Finland. Effect of termoclimate. Biogeochemistry, 36, 239–260.
Liski, J., Perruchoud, D., & Karjalainen, T. (2002). Increasing carbon stocks in the forest soils of western Europe. Forest Ecology and Management, 169, 159–175.
Mäkipää, R., Liski, J., Guendehou, S., Malimbwi, R., & Kaaya, A. (2012). Soil carbon monitoring using surveys and modeling General description and application in the United Republic of Tanzania, FAO forestry paper No. 168, 2012.
Makkonen, K., & Helmisaari, H. S. (1999). Assessing fine-root biomass and production in a Scots pine stand—comparison of soil core and root ingrowth core methods. Plant and Soil, 210, 43–50.
Martin, M. P., Lo Seen, D., Boulonne, L., Jolivet, C., Nair, K. M., Bourgeon, G., & Arrouays, D. (2009). Optimizing pedotransfer functions for estimating soil bulk density using boosted regression trees. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 73, 485–493.
Matejovic, I. (1993). Determination of carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen in soils by automated elemental analysis (dry combustion method). Communication of Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 24, 2213–2222.
McNabb, D. H., Cromack Jr., K., & Fredriksen, R. L. (1986). Variability of nitrogen and carbon in surface soils of six forest types in the Oregon Cascades. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 50, 1037–1041.
Melin, Y., Petersson, H., & Nordfjell, T. (2009). Decomposition of stump and root systems of Norway spruce in Sweden—a modelling approach. Forest Ecology and Management, 257, 1445–1451.
Morison, J., Matthews, R., Miller, G., Perks, M., Randle, T., Vanguelova, E., White, M. and Yamulki, S. (2012). Understanding the carbon and greenhouse gas balance of forests in Britain. Forestry Commission Research Report. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. i–vi + 1–149 pp. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/FCRP018.pdf/$FILE/FCRP018.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2016.
Morison, J.I.L., Vanguelova, E.I., Broadmeadow, S., Perks, M., Yamulki, S. and Randle, T. (2010). Understanding the GHG implications of forestry on peat soils in Scotland. Report for Forestry Commission Scotland, October 2010, Forest Research, 56pp. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/FCS_forestry_peat_GHG_final_Oct13_2010.pdf/$FILE/FCS_forestry_peat_GHG_final_Oct13_2010.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2016.
Muukkonen, P., Häkkinen, M., & Mäkipää, R. (2009). Spatial variation in soil carbon in the organic layer of managed boreal forest soil – implications for sampling design. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 158, 67–76.
Nelson, D.W., & Sommers, L.E. (1996). Methods of soil analysis. Part 3. Chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America Book Series no. 5 (pp. 961–1010).
O’Connell, D. A., Ryan, P. J., McKenzie, N. J., & Ringrose-Voase, A. J. (2000). Quantitative site and soil descriptors to improve the utility of forest soil surveys. Forest Ecology and Management, 138, 107–122.
Oueslati, I., Allamano, P., Bonifacio, E., & Claps, P. (2013). Vegetation and topographic control on the spatial variability of forest soil organic carbon. Pedosphere, 23, 48–58.
Palmer, C. J., Smith, W. D., & Conkling, B. L. (2002). Development of a protocol for monitoring status and trends in forest soil carbon at a national level. Environmental Pollution, 116, 209–219.
Peltoniemi, M., Thurig, E., Ogle, S., Palosuo, T., Schrumpf, M., Wutzler, T., Butterbach-Bahl, K., Chertov, O., Komarov, A., Mickhailov, A., Gardenas, A., Perry, C., Liski, J., Smith, P., & Makipaa, R. (2007). Models in country scale carbon accounting of forest soils. Silva Fennica, 41, 575–602.
Périé, C., & Ouimet, R. (2008). Organic carbon, organic matter and bulk density relationships in boreal forest soils. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 88, 315–325.
Post, W. M., Izaurralde, R. C., Mann, L. K., & Bliss, N. (2001). Monitoring and verifying changes of organic carbon in soils. Climatic Change, 51, 73–99.
Pribyl, D. W. (2010). A critical review of the conventional SOC to SOM conversion factor. Geoderma, 156, 75–83.
Saby, N., & Arrouays, D. (2004). Simulation of the use of a soil-monitoring network to verify carbon sequestration in soils: will changes in organic carbon stocks be detectable? Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 35, 2379–2396.
Saby, N. P. A., Bellamy, P. H., Morvan, X., Arrouays, D., Jones, R. J. A., Verheijen, F. G. A., Kibblewhite, M. G., Verdoot, A. Y., Üveges, J. B., Freudenschuß, A., & Simota, C. (2008). Will European soil-monitoring networks be able to detect changes in topsoil organic carbon? Global Change Biology, 14, 1–11.
Saiz, G., Green, C., Butterbach-Bahl, K., Kiese, R., Avitabile, V., & Farrell, E. P. (2006). Seasonal and spatial variability of soil respiration in four Sitka spruce stands. Plant and Soil, 287, 161–174.
Schils, R.L.M., Kuikman, P., & Liski, J. et al. (2008). Review of existing information on the interrelations between soil and climate change (CLIMSOIL). In: Technical Report - 2008 - 048 (pp. 208) European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.
Schöning, I., Totsche, K. U., & Kögel-Knabner, I. (2006). Small scale spatial variability of organic carbon stocks in litter and solum of a forested Luvisol. Geoderma, 136, 631–642.
Schrumpf, M., Schulze, E. D., Kaiser, K., & Schumacher, J. (2011). How accurately can soil organic carbon stocks and stock changes be quantified by soil inventories? Biogeosciences Discussion, 8, 1–47.
Seibert, J., Stendahl, J., & Sørensen, R. (2007). Topographical influences on soil properties in boreal forests. Geoderma, 141, 139–148.
Shapiro, C. A., & Kranz, W. L. (1992). Comparison of auger and core soil sampling methods to determine soil nitrate under field conditions. Journal of Productive Agriculture, 5, 358–362.
Six, J., Conant, R. T., Paul, E. A., & Paustian, K. (2002). Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant and Soil, 241, 155–176.
Skopp, J. M. (2000). Physical properties of primary particles. In M. E. Sumner (Ed.), Handbook of soil science (pp. A3–A17). Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Smith, P. (2004). How long before a change in soil organic carbon can be detected? Global Change Biology, 10, 1878–1883.
Smith, P. (2008). Land use change and soil organic carbon dynamics. Nutrient Cycling and Agroecosystems, 81, 169–178.
Smith, P., Smith, J., Wattenbach, M., Meyer, J., Lindner, M., Zaehle, S., Hiederer, R., Jones, R., Montanarella, L., Rounsevell, M., Reginster, I., & Kankaanpää, S. (2006). Projected changes in mineral soil carbon of European forests, 1990-2100. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 86, 159–169.
Smith, P., Chapman, S. J., Scott, W. A., Black, H. I. J., Wattenbach, M., Milne, R., Campbell, C. D., Lilly, A., Ostle, N., Levy, P. E., Lumsdon, D. G., Millard, P., Towers, W., Zaehle, S., & Smith, J. U. (2007). Climate change cannot be entirely responsible for soil carbon loss observed in England and Wales, 1978-2003. Global Change Biology, 13, 2605–2609.
Soil Survey Staff (2010). Keys to soil taxonomy (11th ed.). Washington, DC: USDA/NRCS. U.S. Government Printing Office.
Sollins, P., Homann, P., & Caldwell, B. A. (1996). Stabilization and destabilization of soil organic matter: mechanisms and controls. Geoderma, 74, 65–105.
Stolbovoy, V., Montanarella, L., Filippi, N., Jones, A., Gallego, J., & Grassi, G. (2007). Soil sampling protocol to certify the changes of organic carbon stock in mineral soil of the European Union. Version 2. EUR 21576 EN/2. 56 pp. Luxenbourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Tamminen, P., & Derome, J. (2005). Temporal trends in chemical parameters of upland forest soils in southern Finland. Silva Fennica, 39, 313–330.
Tamminen, P., & Starr, M. R. (1990). A survey of forest soil properties related to soil acidification in southern Finland. In P. Kauppi, K. Kenttämies, & P. Anttila (Eds.), Acidification in Finland (pp. 231–247). Berlin - Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Tamminen, P., & Starr, M. (1994). Bulk density of forested mineral soils. Silva Fennica, 28, 53–60.
Tobin, B., Black, K., McGurdy, L., & Nieuwenhuis, M. (2007). Estimates of decay rates of components of coarse woody debris in thinned Sitka spruce forests. Forestry, 80, 455–469.
Van Remortel, R. D., & Shields, D. A. (1993). Comparison of clod and core methods for determination of soil bulk density. Communication of Soil Science of Plant Analyses., 24, 2517–2528.
Vandecasteele, B., De Vos, B., Muys, B., & Tack, F. M. G. (2005). Rates of forest floor decomposition and soil forming processes as indicators of forest ecosystem functioning on a polluted dredged sediment landfill. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 37, 761–769.
Vanguelova, E. I., Nortcliff, S., Moffat, A. J., & Kennedy, F. (2005). Morphology, biomass and nutrient status of fine roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) as influenced by seasonal fluctuations in soil moisture and soil solution chemistry. Plant and Soil, 270, 233–247.
Vanguelova, E., Broadmeadow, S., Anderson, R., Yamulki, S., Randle, T., Nisbet, T., & Morison, J. (2012). A strategic assessment of afforested peat resources in Wales (141pp). Wales: Report for the Forestry Commission.http://fcnotes/pdf/Peatland_Wales_Report_2012.pdf/$FILE/Peatland_Wales_Report_2012.pdf
Vanguelova, E. I., Nisbet, T. R., Moffat, A. J., Broadmeadow, S., Sanders, T. G. M., & Morison, J. I. L. (2013). A new evaluation of carbon stocks in British forest soils. Soil Use and Management, 29, 169–181.
Vanguelova, E. I. (2015). Changes in soil carbon stocks due to afforestation. Scottish Forestry Alliance Project. Interim report. Forest Research report, 21 October 2015.
Vejre, H., Callesen, I., Vesterdal, L., & Raulund-Rasmussen, K. (2003). Carbon and nitrogen in Danish Forest soils—contents and distribution determined by soil order. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 67, 335–343.
Velmurugan, A., Krishan, G., Dadhwal, V. K., Kumar, S., Swarnam, T. P., & Saha, S. K. (2009). Harmonizing soil organic carbon estimates in historical and current data. Current Science, 97, 554–558.
Vesterdal, L. (2011). Sampling of soil for assessment of soil carbon stocks. FunDivEUROPE (FP7) field protocol V1.0, http://project.fundiveurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/Sampling_Protocol_Sampling-of-soil-for-assessment-of-soil-carbon-stocks_Mar-2011.pdf. Accessed 14 Oct 2016.
Vesterdal, L., Schmidt, I. K., Callesen, I., Nilsson, L. O., & Gundersen, P. (2008). Carbon and nitrogen in forest floor and mineral soil under six common European tree species. Forest Ecology and Management, 255, 35–48.
Vesterdal, L., Elberling, B., Christiansen, J. R., Callesen, I., & Schmidt, I. K. (2012). Soil respiration and rates of soil carbon turnover differ among six common European tree species. Forest Ecology and Management, 264, 185–196.
Vincent, K. R., & Chadwick, O. A. (1994). Synthezising bulk density for soils with abundant rock fragments. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 58, 455–464.
Viro, P. (1952). On the determination of stoniness. Communications Instituti Forestalis Fenniae, 40, 23.
Walkley, A., & Black, I. A. (1934). An examination of Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter, and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Science, 37, 29–38.
Wang, X. J., Smethurst, P. J., & Herbert, A. M. (1996). Relationships between three measures of organic matter or carbon in soils of eucalypt plantations in Tasmania. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 34, 545–553.
Webster, K. L., Creed, I. F., Beall, F. D., & Bourbonnière, R. A. (2011). A topographic template for estimating soil carbon pools in forested catchments. Geoderma, 160, 457–467.
Wilding, L. P., Drees, L. R., & Nordt, L. C. (2000). Spatial variability: enhancing the mean estimate of organic and inorganic carbon in a sampling unit. In R. Lal, J. M. Kimble, R. F. Follett, & B. A. Stewart (Eds.), Assessment methods for soil carbon (pp. 69–86). Boca Raton, FL: CRC press.
Wirth, C., Schwalbe, G., Tomczyk, S., Schulze, E.-D., Schumacher, J., Vetter, M., Böttcher, H., Weber, G., & Weller, G. (2004). Dynamik der Kohlenstoffvorräte und -flüsse in den Wäldern Thüringens. Mitteilungen der Thüringer Landesanstalt für Wald, Jagd und Fischerei in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, Heft 23. Jena, Gotha.
Woldendorp, G., & Keenan, R. J. (2005). Coarse woody debris in Australian forest ecosystems: a review. Austral Ecology, 30, 834–843.
Yoo, K., Armundson, R., Heimsath, A. M., & Dietrich, W. E. (2006). Spatial patterns of soil organic carbon on hillslopes: integrating geomorphic processes and the biological C cycle. Geoderma, 130, 47–65.
Young, R., Wilson, B. R., McLeod, M., & Alston, C. (2005). Carbon storage in the soils and vegetation of contrasting land uses in northern New South Wales, Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 43, 21–31.
Zirlewagen, D. (2003). Developing a sampling concept for the test area Thuringia with regard to the particular (existing) data base situation. Kenzingen, 2003 (unpublished CarboInvent report).
The authors would like to acknowledge the EU COST Action FP0803 “Belowground carbon turnover in European forests” for providing the platform and financial help for meetings where this review was initiated and further discussed and progressed.
About this article
Cite this article
Vanguelova, E.I., Bonifacio, E., De Vos, B. et al. Sources of errors and uncertainties in the assessment of forest soil carbon stocks at different scales—review and recommendations. Environ Monit Assess 188, 630 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-016-5608-5
- Forest soils
- Carbon stocks
- Soil profile