Distribution of Black Carbon in Topsoils of the Northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Under Natural and Anthropogenic Influences

  • Xiuyun Min
  • Jun WuEmail author
  • Jian Lu
  • Xiaohu Wen
  • Chunliang Gao
  • Leiming Li


Black carbon (BC), ubiquitous in soils, plays an important role in global carbon cycles, the radiative heat balance of the Earth, pollutant fate, emissions of greenhouse gas, soil fertility, soil microbial community, and ecosystem stability. However, information on BC in topsoils of the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is limited. Therefore, this study performed field sampling and analyzed contents of total BC and soot BC in topsoils. The results indicated that the contents of total BC in all soil samples ranged from 0.504 to 74.381 g kg−1 with an average value of 5.152 g kg−1, whereas those of soot BC were in the range of 0.400–15.200 g kg−1 with a mean value of 1.719 g kg−1. Contents of BC were significantly correlated with those of total carbon and total organic carbon. Soil types affected the distribution of soil BC. The contents of total BC in the loam soils were larger than those in the clay soils, whereas soot BC was more easily enriched in the clay soils. Total BC was negatively correlated with Ca, and soot BC was negatively correlated with Ti. The contents of soil BC in functional areas, such as agricultural and pastoral areas, industrial areas, and mining areas, were significantly higher than those in other areas, illustrating that anthropogenic activities drastically affected the distribution of soil BC. This study exhibits the fundamental information on soil BC in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to provide important knowledge on global soil carbon sink.



This work was financially supported by One Hundred Talents Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y610061033 and Y629041021), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41671319 and 41877131), Thousand Talents Plan of Qinghai Province (Y740171071), Taishan Scholar Program of Shandong Province, Natural Science Foundation of Qinghai Province (2019-ZJ-909), Applied Basic Research Program of Qinghai Province (2016-ZJ-755 and 2016-ZJ-736), and CAS “Light of West China Program”. The authors thank the editor and reviewers for their valuable suggestions and comments on the manuscript. The authors also thank Mr. Long Yang and Ms. Feng Wang for their contributions to sample preparation and analysis.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Comprehensive and Highly Efficient Utilization of Salt Lake Resources, Qinghai Institute of Salt LakesChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  2. 2.Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Geology and Environment of Salt LakesXiningChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological Remediation, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesYantaiChina
  5. 5.Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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