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Soil organic carbon stocks by soil group for afforested soils in Ireland

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posted on 2023-08-03, 11:26 authored by Caren JarmainCaren Jarmain, Thomas Cummins, Antonio Jonay Jovani-Sancho, Tim Nairn, Alina Premrov, Brian Reidy, Florence Renou-Wilson, Brian Tobin, Kilian Walz, Wilson, David, Kenneth ByrneKenneth Byrne

Forest ecosystems are recognised as Natural Climate Solutions because forest soils are such important carbon stores, containing almost half of the total soil organic carbon of terrestrial ecosystems. Here we present the results of a synthesis of soil carbon stocks by World Reference Base soil group, and forest litter carbon stocks for afforested soils in the Republic of Ireland. We report soil carbon stocks of mineral soils separately from organomineral soils. We estimated mean soil carbon stocks in a 100 cm deep mineral soil to be between 162 ± 87 t C/ha (Gleysols) and 416 ± 0 t C/ha (Umbrisols, n = 1), and between 173 ± 65 t C/ha (Phaeozems) and 602 ± 226 t C/ ha (Regosols) in a 100 cm deep organo-mineral soil; both less than the estimated soil carbon stocks in organic soils (Histosols): 645 ± 222 t C/ha. The entire soil carbon stocks in mineral Leptosols (100 ± 0 t C/ha, n = 1), Stagnosols (144 ± 39 t C/ha), Luvisols (159 ± 52 t C/ha) and Fluvisols (231 ± 0 t C/ha, n = 1) was contained in the upper 50 cm of soil. Based on a 100 cm deep soil, Histosols hold 1.6–4 times the amount of soil C than mineral soils and 1.1–3.7 times the amount in organo-mineral soils for the same profile depth. Certain mineral (e. g. Umbrisols) and organo-mineral soils (e.g Gleysols, Regosols) contain substantial soil carbon stocks relative to Histosols. We found considerable soil carbon stocks below 30 cm depth, which highlights the importance of depth extent for cumulative soil carbon stocks estimates. The upper third of the 100 cm profile contained 33% (Histosols) to 70% (Luvisols) of the soil carbon stocks and the upper half of a 100 cm profile contained the entire soil carbon stocks for Leptosols, Stagnosols, Luvisols and Fluvisols and organo-mineral Leptosols. Unfortunately, there were few samples available for mineral Leptosols, Umbrisols, Luvisols and Fluvisols, and the organomineral Stagnosols and Regosols, which precludes the drawing of conclusions for these groups. Relative to the soil carbon stocks, we found low mean forest litter stocks: 4.1 ± 5.5 t C/ha, 4.8 ± 3.3 t C/ha and 2.7 ± 2.9 t C/ha for broadleaf, coniferous and mixed forests respectively. Few exceptions existed for individual sites: 22.7 and 131.3 t C/ha for broadleaf forests. Our results are evidence that soil carbon stocks in mineral, organo-mineral and organic soils need to be protected, appropriately managed, and enhanced to be beneficial for greenhouse gas mitigation. Assessments are needed to identify which soil-site-management practice combinations risk soil carbon stock depletion. The large range observed in soil and litter carbon stocks stresses the importance of adequately accounting for soil group differences when GHG inventories are compiled. The synthesised dataset will contribute to improved SCS estimation for afforested lands in Ireland.



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Geoderma Regional, 2023, 32, e00615



Other Funding information

Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (EPA) 2015-CCRP-MS.30 Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 11/C/205

Sustainable development goals

  • (2) Zero Hunger
  • (13) Climate Action
  • (15) Life On Land

Department or School

  • Biological Sciences

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