Soil carbonThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Why Is Soil Carbon Important? The sequestration of carbon by forest and agricultural soils has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas concentrations (Pacala and Socolow 2004). Many countries are implementing field inventories of soil carbon, often combined with data from other sources, to estimate soil carbon sequestration rates and amounts (Kurz and Apps 2003; McKenzie and others 2000; Scott and others 2002). Models are currently used to predict the contribution of soil carbon to the total forest carbon sequestration in the United States (Heath and others 2002, Smith and Heath 2002). Current estimates suggest that > 50 percent of the total stored forest carbon is held in the soil with an additional fraction in the forest floor (Birdsey and Heath 1997, Heath and Birdsey 1997, Smith and others 2004). Our relatively new effort to inventory soil carbon should enrich these efforts to model soil carbon and document forest sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.