How has soil carbon stock changed over recent decades?

Leiyi Chen, Pete Smith, Yuanhe Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

35 Citations (Scopus)


Soil is the largest stock of carbon (C) in the terrestrial biosphere, so even slight changes in soil C stock may induce significant fluctuations in the atmospheric C dioxide (CO2) concentration. Early coupled C-climate models predicted that positive C-climate feedback would be triggered due to the acceleration of C release to the atmosphere under future climate warming (Cox et al., 2000). However, due to the omission of key microbial components and biogeochemical mechanisms in these models (Wieder et al., 2013), these predictions remain controversial, because soil C dynamics is still highly uncertain among results simulated by 11 Earth system models (ESMs) involved in CMIP5 (Ciais et al., 2013). Likewise, experimental evidence is also contradictory, revealing increasing, decreasing, or nonsignificant changes among individual experiments (Lu et al., 2013). Given the very mixed results from both modelling and experimental studies, we present a global synthesis of soil C changes to evaluate a central tendency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3197-3199
Number of pages3
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number9
Early online date4 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China on Global Change (2014CB954001 and 2015CB954201), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31322011, 31400364 and 41371213), and the Thousand Young Talents Program.


  • Soil Carbon Stock
  • Forests
  • Grasslands
  • Croplands
  • Forest management
  • land management
  • Sampling interval


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