The ISCN is a self-chartered, international, collaborative organization composed of scientists who recognize a need for and value in large-scale synthesis of soil carbon science. Follow the links below to discover who we are, what we do, and the principles that guide our work.
Soil is a vital resource and soil carbon is an integral component of soil structure and function. Soil is the largest terrestrial reservoir of carbon, containing an estimated 1550 Pg of organic carbon in the top meter alone. Soil contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere (800 Pg in 2007), and three times that in global vegetation (~500 Pg). Although the global stock of soil carbon is immense, it is not static: about 120 Pg of carbon moves annually between soil and the carbon reservoirs in the atmosphere and vegetation. Soil carbon may thus play a singular but uncertain role in climate forcing during the coming decades, with significant net losses contributing to positive feedbacks, or significant sequestration helping to mitigate climate forcing.
Soils are home to many challenging scientific questions, some of which lack definitive answers in spite of a long history of research. Mechanisms of soil carbon stabilization vs. destabilization, hydrologic controls on the fate of carbon stored in soil, feedbacks between soil management and atmospheric carbon dioxide– there are many issues critical to both science and society that rest upon improved understanding of soil carbon dynamics. Through its efforts to enhance communication, collaboration, and the efficient use of scientific resources, the ISCN is facilitating the kind of large-scale scientific synthesis required to answer such questions and advance this area of research.