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Northeast China holds huge wetland soil organic carbon storage: an estimation from 819 soil profiles and random forest algorithm

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As a huge natural carbon storage, wetlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle. However, the spatial pattern and storage of soil organic carbon (SOC) in wetland ecosystems remain largely uncertain due to large spatial heterogeneity and insufficient field observations.


In this study, we predict the spatial pattern of SOC density and estimated SOC storage in wetlands of Northeast China based on 819 field samples and multiple geospatial data using random forest algorithm.


The SOC density of wetlands at different depths was affected differently by environmental factors and the SOC density in the surface layer (0–30 cm) was more susceptible to climatic change. The correlation coefficients (r) between the SOC density predicted by the random forest model and the measured SOC density were 0.86, 0.77 and 0.73 in 0–30, 30–60 and 60–100 cm soil depths, respectively. Our estimation showed that Northeast China holds huge wetland SOC storage in the amount of 3.40 ± 0.13 Pg C. The average wetland SOC density was 44.30 ± 1.72 kg C m−2, which decreased gradually from north to south in the study area.


The wetland SOC density in Northeast China decreased with soil depth, and the influence of environmental factors on wetland SOC gradually decreased. Surface wetland SOC may be more sensitive to global climate change. Our results examined the relationship between wetland SOC and environmental factors, which benefits the understanding of the responses of wetland SOC to climate change.

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The datasets generated during and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 42222103, 42171379, and 42101379) the Science and Technology Development Program of Jilin Province (20210101396JC), the funding from Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS (2017277), and the Young Scientist Group Project of Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2022QNXZ03). We are very grateful to those who participated in the field soil surveys and thank the National Earth System Science Data Center of China for supporting geographic data (

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Yongxing Ren, Xiaoyan Li and Dehua Mao. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Yongxing Ren and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dehua Mao.

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The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

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Ren, Y., Li, X., Mao, D. et al. Northeast China holds huge wetland soil organic carbon storage: an estimation from 819 soil profiles and random forest algorithm. Plant Soil 490, 469–483 (2023).

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