Argonne researchers show impact of soil vegetation and moisture on carbon recovery

September 1, 2010

Argonne National Laboratory Biosciences Division ecologist Julie Jastrow and colleagues recently published work showing the impact of soil vegetation and moisture on terrestrial carbon recovery. Revitalization of degraded landscapes may provide sinks for rising atmospheric CO2, especially in restored grasslands.

A unique dataset based on soil samples archived over nearly 20 years suggests that even subtle differences in soil moisture—such as those brought about by topographic variations on the order of two meters—can have a large impact on soil organic carbon accrual on decadal timescales.

The Argonne research demonstrates that the projected impacts on both soil moisture and the seasonal productivity of C4 and C3 plants should be included in predictions of carbon storage potentials and estimates of the relative carbon-credit value of restored grasslands.