Soils store over three times as much carbon as our atmosphere, and as soils warm, they have the potential to become a large positive feedback to climate change. Over half of this organic carbon is stored in deeper soils, but most climate change experiments have only focused on surface soils. Here I explore the vulnerability of deep (>20 cm) soil carbon to climate change through a series of experiments in locations ranging from hardwood temperate forests to tropical Hawaii to old agricultural fields. I have found that the response of deep soils to climate change varies greatly across these ecosystems and is likely dependent on its availability to the soil microbes that consume it. This conclusion is supported by a global meta-analysis of radiocarbon values among different soil carbon pools, which vary in their availability to microbes.
Speaker: Caitlin Hicks Pries, Dartmouth College
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