USGS - science for a changing world

Fate of Carbon in Soil Systems

A open top chamber

Project Personnel:

Mark Waldrop, Dave McGuire, Miriam Jones, Kristen Manies, Jack McFarland, Jennifer Harden




USGS Climate, Research and Development Program for Climate and Land use Change


This project will quantitatively define the controls and vulnerabilities of terrestrial carbon using studies of soil incorporating both long term and recent perspectives. Over half of the flux and stock of actively cycling terrestrial organic carbon is derived from soil. Therefore, the fate of terrestrial carbon (and the potential to sequester or emit CO2) is determined largely by the soil processes through hydrologic, sedimentation, and biological interactions. This project establishes the carbon mass balance for selected landscapes including a variety of landscapes such as permafrost, peatland, alluvial fan, and river terrace landscapes and disturbance regimes such as fire, erosion, and permafrost thaw. Using a combination of landscape, experiment, and modeling approaches, our goal is to establish both conceptual and quantitative constructs that specifically address how terrestrial carbon is stabilized and destabilized over a variety of timescales and spatial scales.

Results to date

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