Advertisement

Managing Terrestrial Carbon in a Changing Climate

  • Rattan LalEmail author
Chapter
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environment, Security, Development and Peace book series (BRIEFSSECUR, volume 8)

Abstract

The threat of abrupt climate change by increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has enhanced the interest and urgency of identifying strategies for reducing and sequestering anthropogenic emissions. The latter are caused by land use conversion that began with the dawn of settled agriculture several millennia ago, and by fossil fuel combustion that began with the onset of the industrial revolution in about 1750. Emissions from land use conversion during the pre-industrial era until about 1850 are estimated at ~320 Pg. Since 1850, emissions from fossil fuel combustion are estimated at ~350 Pg and those from land use conversion at ~150 Pg. These and other anthropogenic activities have caused drastic perturbation of the global carbon cycle with increase in the atmospheric C pool and an attendant decrease in the pedologic, biotic, and geologic (fossil fuel) pools. Together, the pedologic pool (4,000 Pg to 3 m depth) and the biotic pool (620 Pg), called the terrestrial pool, is the third largest pool, after the oceanic (38,000 Pg) and the geologic (~5,000 Pg). The depletion of the terrestrial C pool has created a C sink capacity which can be filled by conversion to a restorative land use and adoption of recommended soil, plant, and animal management practices. The process of transfer of atmospheric CO2 into the pedologic and biotic pools is called carbon sequestration. This natural process contrasts with that of the geoengineering techniques of carbon capture and storage (CCS) involving geologic and oceanic storage and mineral carbonation of CO2 into calcite etc. The strategy of biosequestration, in addition to being cost-effective, has numerous ancillary benefits. It is a truly win–win option. Specifically, it improves soil quality, enhances agronomic productivity, and advances food security. Improvement in soil quality by C sequestration is related to generation and stabilization of micro-aggregates created through formation of organo-mineral complexes. The strategies of biosequestration involve development of a positive ecosystems C budget in soil by mulch farming, conservation agriculture, no-till systems, integrated nutrient management including biological N fixation and mycorrhizae use of amendments including biochar, and adoption of complex farming systems such as agroforestry. There is no silver bullet or panacea, and the choice of a practice/strategy depends on site-specific conditions.

Keywords

Carbon sequestration Geoengineering Soil quality Ecosystem services Carbon capture and storage Conservation agriculture Soil structure 

References

  1. Adams, E.E.; Caldeira, K., 2008: “Ocean Storage of CO2”, in: Elements, 4: 319–334.Google Scholar
  2. Aune, J.; Lal, R., 1998: “Agricultural Productivity in the Tropics, and Critical Limits of Properties of Oxisols, Ultisols, and Alfisols”, in: Tropical Agriculture, 74 (Trinidad): 96–103.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, S.M.; Cole, D.R., 2008: “CO2 Sequestration in Deep Sedimentary Formations”, in: Elements, 4: 325–331.Google Scholar
  4. Broecker, W.S., 2007: “CO2 Arithmetic”, in: Science, 315: 1371.Google Scholar
  5. Broecker, W.S., 2008: “CO2 Capture and Storage: Possibilities and Perspectives”, in: Elements, 4: 296–297.Google Scholar
  6. Crutzen, P.J., 2002: “The “Anthropocene””, in: J. Phys. IV, 12: 1–5, Doi: 10.1051jp4:20020447.Google Scholar
  7. Eglin, T.P.; Ciais, S.L.; Pias, P., et al., 2010: “Historical and Future Perspectives of Global Soil Carbon Response to Climate and Land Use Changes”, in: Tellus, 62B: 700–718.Google Scholar
  8. Ellis, C.; Goldewijk, K.K.; Siebert, S., et al., 2010: “Anthropogenic Transformation of the Biomes: 1700 to 2000”, in: Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19: 589–606.Google Scholar
  9. Eswaran, H.; Reich, P.F.; Kimble, J.M., et al., 2000: “Global Soil Carbon Stocks”, in: Lal, R.; Kimble, J.M.; Eswaran, H.; Stewart, B.A. (Eds.): Global Change and Pedologic Carbonates (Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers): 15–25.Google Scholar
  10. Foley, J.A.; De Fries, R.; Asner, G.P., et al., 2005: “Global Consequences of Land Use”, in: Science, 309: 570–573.Google Scholar
  11. Goldewijk, K.K.; Bensen, A.; Van Drecht, G.; de Vas, M., 2011: “The HYDE 3.1 Spatially Explicit Data Base of Human-Induced Global Land Use Change Over the Past 12,000 years”, in: Global Ecology. Biogeography, 20: 73–86.Google Scholar
  12. Holdren, J.P., 2008: “Meeting the Climate Change Challenge”, in: J.P. Chaffe Memorial Lecture on Science and Environment (Ronald Regan Blvd, Washington D.C): 17 January, 2008.Google Scholar
  13. Houghton, R.A., 2003: “Revised Estimates of the Annual Net Flux of Carbon to the Atmosphere from Changes in Land Use and Land Management 1850–2000”, in: Tellus, 55B: 378–390.Google Scholar
  14. Houghton, R.A., 2007: “Balancing the Global Carbon Budget”, in: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 35: 313–347.Google Scholar
  15. IPCC, 2000: Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, Special Report of IPCC (U.K.: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  16. Jackson, R.B.; Baker J.S., 2010: “Opportunities and Constraints for Forest Climate Mitigation”, in: Bioscience, 60: 698–707.Google Scholar
  17. Jansson, C.; Wullschleger, S.D.; Kalluri, U.C.; Tuskan, G.A., 2010: “Phyto Sequestration: Carbon Biosequestration by Plants and the Prospects of genetic engineering”.Google Scholar
  18. Lal, R., 2004: “Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security”, in: Science, 304: 1623–1627.Google Scholar
  19. Lal, R., 2006a: “Enhancing Crop Yield in the Developing Countries Through Restoration of Soil Organic Carbon Pool in Agricultural Lands”, in: Land Degradation & Development, 17: 197–209.Google Scholar
  20. Lal, R., 2006b: “Managing Soils for Feed a Global Population of 10 Billion”, in: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 86: 2273–2284.Google Scholar
  21. Lal, R., 2010a: “Managing Soils and Ecosystems for Mitigating Anthropogenic Carbon Emissions and Advancing Global Food Security”, in: Bioscience, 60: 708–721.Google Scholar
  22. Lal, R., 2010b: “Enhancing Eco-efficiency in Agroecosystems Through Soil Carbon Sequestration”, in: Crop Science, 50: S120–S131.Google Scholar
  23. Lal, R., 2010c: “Beyond Copenhagen: Mitigating Climate Change and Achieving Good Security Through Soil Carbon Sequestration”, in: Food Security, 2: 169–177.Google Scholar
  24. Lal, R., 2011: “Harnessing Science Knowledge for Combating Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought”, Keynote Paper Presented at the 10th Session of COP to UNCCD, Changwan, South Korea, 17–18 October.Google Scholar
  25. LeQuéré, C.; Raupach, M.R.; Canadell, J.G., et al., 2010: “Trends in Source and Sinks of CO2”, in: Nature Geosciences (www.nature.com/naturegeoscience).
  26. Marland, G.; Rotty, R.M., 1984: “Carbon dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuel: A Procedure for Estimation and Results for 1950–1982”, in: Tellus, 36(B): 232–261.Google Scholar
  27. Marland, G.; Boden T.A.; Andre, R.J., 2007: “Global, Regional, and National CO2 Emissions”, in: Trends: A compendium of Data on Global Change: CO 2 Information Analysis Center (Oak Ridge, TN: ORNL).Google Scholar
  28. McNeill, J.R., 2000: Something New Under the Sun (N.Y: W.H. Norton and Co.): 421.Google Scholar
  29. Oelkers, E.H.; Cole, D.R., 2008: “Carbon dioxide Sequestration: A Solution to a Global Problem”, in: Elements, 4: 305–310.Google Scholar
  30. Ogle, S.M.; Breodt, F.J.; Paustian K., 2005: “Agricultural Management Impacts on Soil Organic Carbon Storage Under Moist and Dry Climatic Conditions of Temperate and Tropical Regions”, in: Biogeochemistry, 72: 87–121.Google Scholar
  31. ORNL., 2001: Global CO 2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring (Tennessee, USA: Oakridge National Lab): 1751–1998.Google Scholar
  32. Ramanathan, V.; Xu, Y., 2010: “The Copenhagen Accord for Limiting Global Warming: Criteria, Constraints, and Available Avenues”, PNAS, ( pnas.org./cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.100229317).
  33. Read, P., 2007: “Biosphere Carbon Stock Management: Addressing the Threat of Abrupt Climate Change in the Next Few Decades: An Editorial Essay”, in: Climatic Change, (doi:  10.1007/s10584-007-9356-y).
  34. Ruddiman, W.F., 2003: “The Anthropogenic Greenhouse Era Began Thousands of Years Ago”, in: Climatic Change, 61: 261–293.Google Scholar
  35. Ruddiman, W.F., 2006: “On the Holocene CO2 Rise: Anthropogenic or Natural?”, in: EOS, 87: 352–353.Google Scholar
  36. Sayre, R., 2010: “Micro-Algae: The Potential for Carbon Capture”, in: Bioscience, 60: 722–728.Google Scholar
  37. Schneider, S.H., 2008: “Geoengineering: Could we or Should we Make It Work?”, in: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (A), 366: 3843–3862.Google Scholar
  38. Sterman, J.D., 2008: “Risks Communication on Climate: Mental Models and Mass Balance”, in: Science, 322: 532–533.Google Scholar
  39. Trenbath, K.E.; Christy, J.R.; Olson, J.G., 1988: “Global Atmospheric Mass, Surface Pressure, and Water Vapor Variations”, in: Journal of Geophysical Research, 93D: 10925.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carbon Management and Sequestration CenterThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations