Climatic and Edaphic Controls on Soil pH in Alpine Grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau, China: A Quantitative Analysis

Cheng-Jim Ji, Yuan-He Yang, Wen-Xuan Han, Yan-Fang He, J. Smith, P. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Soil acidity is an important parameter that can regulate ecosystem structure and function. However, a quantitative understanding of the relationships between soil pH and environmental factors remains unavailable. In this study, relationships of soil pH with both climatic and edaphic factors in alpine grasslands on the Tibetan Plateau, China were quantified using data obtained from a regional soil survey during 2001-2004. Our results showed that soil pH decreased along the gradient of both mean annual temperature and precipitation. Likewise, soil pH exhibited consistent negative correlations with soil moisture and silt content. However, soil organic and inorganic carbon contents played opposite roles in shaping patterns of soil pH: the accumulation of soil organic matter led to higher soil acidity, while the existence of soil inorganic matter was favorable for maintaining higher soil alkalinity. The variation partitioning analysis indicated that the combination of climatic and edaphic variables explained 74.3% of the variation in soil acidity. These results suggest that soil pH could be predicted from routinely-measured variables, allowing a robust pedotransfer function to be developed. The pedotransfer function may facilitate land surface models to generate more reliable predictions on ecosystem structure and function around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • climate
  • soil acidity
  • soil inorganic carbon
  • soil texture


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