Scientists working in Blodgett Forest

Soil sampling in the Blodgett Forest near Georgetown conducted by Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division researchers Caitlin Hicks Pries, Cristina Castanha and Neslihan Tas Baas – sterile sample six 1 meter deep cores in 10 cm increments down to 1m.

Soils could release much more CO2 than expected into the atmosphere as the climate warms, according to new research by scientists in EESA’s Climate and Ecosystems Sciences Division—Caitlin Hicks Pries, Christina Castanha, Rachel Porras, and Margaret Torn.

Their findings are based on a field experiment that, for the first time, explored what happens to organic carbon trapped in soil when all soil layers are warmed, which in this case extend to a depth of 100 centimeters. The scientists discovered that warming both the surface and deeper soil layers at three experimental plots increased the plots’ annual release of CO2 by 34 to 37 percent over non-warmed soil. Much of the CO2 originated from deeper layers, indicating that deeper stores of carbon are more sensitive to warming than previously thought.

Their work is available online in the journal Science, as of March 9, “The whole-soil carbon flux in response to warming“.

Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center (March 9, 2017)

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