Quantifying the erosion effect on current carbon budget of European agricultural soils at high spatial resolution

Lugato, Emanuele and Paustian, Keith and Panagos, Panagos and Jones, Arwyn and Borrelli, Pasquale. (2016) Quantifying the erosion effect on current carbon budget of European agricultural soils at high spatial resolution. Global Change Biology, 22 (5). pp. 1976-1984.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/52881/

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The idea of offsetting anthropogenic CO 2 emissions by increasing global soil organic carbon (SOC), as recently proposed by French authorities ahead of COP21 in the ‘four per mil’ initiative, is notable. However, a high uncertainty still exits on land C balance components. In particular, the role of erosion in the global C cycle is not totally disentangled, leading to disagreement whether this process induces lands to be a source or sink of CO 2 . To investigate this issue, we coupled soil erosion into a biogeochemistry model, running at 1 km 2 resolution across the agricultural soils of the European Union (EU). Based on data-driven assumptions, the simulation took into account also soil deposition within grid cells and the potential C export to riverine systems, in a way to be conservative in a mass balance. We estimated that 143 of 187 Mha have C erosion rates <0.05 Mg C ha −1 yr −1 , although some hot-spot areas showed eroded SOC >0.45 Mg C ha −1 yr −1 . In comparison with a baseline without erosion, the model suggested an erosion-induced sink of atmospheric C consistent with previous empirical-based studies. Integrating all C fluxes for the EU agricultural soils, we estimated a net C loss or gain of −2.28 and +0.79 Tg yr −1 of CO 2 eq, respectively, depending on the value for the short-term enhancement of soil C mineralization due to soil disruption and displacement/transport with erosion. We concluded that erosion fluxes were in the same order of current carbon gains from improved management. Even if erosion could potentially induce a sink for atmospheric CO 2 , strong agricultural policies are needed to prevent or reduce soil erosion, in order to maintain soil health and productivity.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Borrelli, Pasquale
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:02 Nov 2017 09:50
Deposited On:02 Nov 2017 09:50

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