Volume 32 Issue 5 (May 2022)
Article, p. 4-10 | Full
What’s Soil Got to Do with Climate Change?
Soils are the foundation of life on land and represent one of the largest global carbon (C)
reservoirs. Because of the vast amount of C that they store and the continuous fluxes of C with
the atmosphere, soil can either be part of the solution or problem with respect to climate
change. Using a bank account analogy, the size and significance of the soil organic C (SOC) pool
is best understood as the balance between inputs (deposits) from net primary productivity and
outputs (withdrawals) from SOC through decay and/or physical transport. Reversing the current
problematic trend of increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be met
with reduced fossil fuel emissions. At the same time, we argue that “climate-smart” land
management can promote both terrestrial sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide
(CO2) and contribute to improving soil health and benefits. In this review, we
highlight environments that are particularly vulnerable to SOC destabilization via land use and
climatic factors and outline existing and emerging strategies that use soils to address
anthropogenic climate change.
Manuscript received 15 July 2021. Revised manuscript received 27 Jan. 2022.
Manuscript accepted 3 Feb. 2022. Posted 23 Mar. 2022.
© The Geological Society of America, 2022. CC-BY-NC.
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