Soil carbon sequestration in a changing global environment



Throughout its long history the Earth has undergone warm periods with high atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG), and has responded with different buffering mechanisms whereby atmospheric C has been transferred to other geochemical compartments. Strategies for the mitigation and adaptation to the current climatic forcing may thus be generated by the acceleration of such natural mechanisms, especially those involved in short cycles, mainly in the biosphere and the pedosphere. Although these contain smaller C stocks than other compartments (< 0.01% of the total C), they circulate large amounts of C from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and mineral weathering (e.g., 120 Pg C are circulated through terrestrial ecosystems and total C in the atmospheric compartment is 805 Pg C). Increased C sequestration can thus be achieved in terrestrial ecosystems, by: (1) favouring growth of biomass; (2) promoting and facilitating carbonation processes; (3) reducing erosion and favouring pedogenesis; (4) developing organic matter-rich horizons; (5) recovering degraded or contaminated soils, and/or (6) managing waste by use of systems that minimize emissions of GHG. Within the latter option, the following actions are considered here in more detail: 1) production of Technosols, and 2) production of biochar. All of the above options should form part of a strategy for the mitigation and adaptation to global climate change. In this review, we analyze those focused on promoting soil conservation, soil restoration and soil formation.


Carbonization Carbonation Carbon sequestration Soils Organic matter Technosols Biochar 



We acknowledge the Manawatu Microscopy and Imaging Centre (MMIC) and Doug Hopcroft for assistance in preparing the biochar samples and operating the SEM images. The authors are grateful to Dr. Miko U.F. Kirschbaum (Landcare Research, New Zealand) for his constructive revision of a previous version of this document. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions. M.C.A. is very grateful for financial support from the Ministery of Agriculture and Forestry of New Zealand. Finally, we acknowledge the financial support for the research, provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education (project no. CTM 2006-13748-CO2).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Edafología y Química Agrícola, Facultad de BiologíaUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Institute of Natural ResourcesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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