Mechanisms of soil C (de)stabilization

Forums Collaborations Mechanisms of soil C (de)stabilization

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Joseph Blankinship 1 year, 4 months ago.

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    Corey Lawrence


    Mechanisms of C (de)stabilization
    Working group leads: Corey Lawrence – US Geological Survey; Joseph Blankinship – UC Santa Barbara/ U. Arizona; Katherine Heckman – US Forest Service; Susan Crow – U. Hawaii; Marco Keiluweit – U Mass Amherst

    The ‘Mechanisms of C (de)stabilization’ working group is focused on improving and expanding the ISCN template and database to allow for more detailed comparisons of soil C stabilization and destabilization across diverse soil types and large spatial scales. Some specific goals of our action group are to facilitate discussion and collaboration around (1) more efficient and comparable methods of soil analyses for assessing soil C (de)stabilization, (2) consistent and accurate reporting of data and (3) open-source tools for conducting cross-site comparisons, including both managed and natural systems.

    We have initiated several activities aligned with these goals through a related US Geological Survey Powell Center Working Group, Specifically, the Powell Center group has developed a revised version of the ISCN template targeted towards including radiocarbon data from bulk and fractionated soil samples and is in the process of developing R-based tools for aggregating, filtering and visualizing these data.

    The efforts of the Powell Center working group, however, are only the first step in a long-term effort toward improving our ability to synthesize and compare increasingly detailed datasets of soil C distributions in soils. To ensure the longevity and usability of these efforts, we seek community input regarding several important issues. First, we seek feedback regarding our proposed changes to templates, which are focused on providing improved accessibility and applicability to more detailed datasets than are currently represented in the existing ISCN database. Second, we seek technical input pertaining to the development of an adaptable data framework that can be expanded to accommodate new analytical approaches and statistical methods. Third, we seek input regarding the development of standardized methodologies for measuring and reporting data pertaining to soil C storage mechanisms. Finally, we seek collaborations and proposal development directed at addressing specific scientific questions that will both facilitate the expansion and application of these synthetics datasets.


    Jennifer Harden


    Is your template available for sharing? How does it compare to other versions and what can we do to prepare our data for entering it into a similar format?


    Corey Lawrence


    Our template differs from the currently available version of the ISCN template in that (1) we have simplified some of the ‘controlled vocabulary’ fields, (2) we have removed some redundant and/or extraneous data fields (based on the needs of our Powell Center working group) and (3) we have developed a simplified approach for reporting data from soil fractionation studies.

    Joey Blankinship, an action group leader and our template guru, will be co-leading a discussion of templates during the afternoon portion of the ISCN workshop. We will make our template available during the the pre-AGU ISCN meeting and we will also share documentation describing the form and function of our changes template.


    Joseph Blankinship


    During the All Hands Meeting on December 11, 2016, the Soil Carbon (De)stabilization Action Group had an opportunity to “speed date” with the broader ISCN community. Although the discussions tended to raise more questions than answers, we did find some common ground and the feedback provided important broader context for the goals of the group. Although this ISCN Action Group is also a Working Group for the USGS Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, we know that being inclusive and expanding our network through the ISCN will also broaden the impacts. The leads of our Action Group are Corey Lawrence, Kate Heckman, Susan Crow, Marco Keiluweit, and myself (Joey Blankinship). Other participants of the group include Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Jennifer Druhan, Erika Marín-Spiotta, Alain Plante, Craig Rasmussen, Christina Schaedel, Josh Schimel, Carlos Sierra, Aaron Thompson, Rota Wagai, and Will Wieder.

    Common Ground:
    – We need a soil C fraction database that includes information for a range of physical, chemical, and biological (de)stabilization mechanisms.
    – To improve cross-site comparisons and soil C accounting, the scientific community and broader society needs an official recommendation for common measurements of soil C, particularly stable C pools. These standardized measurements could be customized for different soil types.
    – The recommended common measurements will be more likely to be adopted if we can identify proxies for stable soil C fractions. Ideally these proxies are not too expensive and widely available.
    – We need well-defined measurements to match up with models (e.g., specific surface area?).
    – Scripts (e.g., R environment) for interacting with templates need to be included in database. Code repository could be hosted on Github.

    A Way Forward (specific actions):
    – Share modified ISCN template with mineral metadata and simplified controlled vocabulary.
    – Join forces to design and populate a soil C fraction database. The goal is too big for any one student, postdoc, or institution. Maybe we should have meeting/workshop with just those actually populating the database?
    – Use environmental gradients (climate, soil age, etc.) and manipulative experiments to systematically identify and quantify (de)stabilization mechanisms.
    – Make YouTube videos showing recommended soil C measurements with well-defined steps (?)

    Remaining Questions:
    – How can we fund this effort?
    – How do we best use the database to answer basic and applied research questions?
    – How can we encourage authors to enter data into database by default?
    – How do we minimize errors and missing data in the database?
    – How exactly do we formulate a recommendation for common soil C measurements?
    – What can we learn/adopt from Julie Jastrow’s permafrost database?
    – Can we link up with soil CO2 flux database(s)?
    – How can we include spectral and other semi-quantitative data?
    – How can we include pyrogenic C?
    – How do we best include wetlands? Organic soils and forest floor/woody residues?

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