Overview on Response of Global Soil Carbon Pools to Climate and Land-Use Changes

Thomas Eglin*, Philippe Ciais, Shi Long Piao, Pierre Barré, Valentin Belassen, Patricia Cadule, Claire Chenu, Thomas Gasser, Markus Reichstein, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter, we review the respective influences of land-use change and climate change on the global balance of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. Based upon the results of a global biogeochemical model, past-century global land cover change caused a loss of SOC as atmospheric CO2. This human induced SOC decrease was nearly balanced by the net SOC increase elsewhere due to rising CO2 and wetter climate augmenting ecosystem primary productivity. In the future, both climate and land cover changes could cause a net source of atmospheric CO2. Increased litter production may no longer compensate for increased decomposition from warming, particularly in tropical regions, but future SOC changes are highly uncertain. Reduction of the uncertainty requires improvement of future climate projections and land-use scenarios and better understanding of biogeochemical processes controlling SOC turnover.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change
Subtitle of host publicationScience, Policy, and Ethics
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)047095857X, 9780470958575
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2011


  • Climate change
  • Land-use change
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Terrestrial carbon-cycle models


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