School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Carbon turnover

Carbon turnover in forest and grassland soils – will global warming turn carbon sinks into sources?

Soil organic matter contains about twice as much carbon as the biosphere. The temperature sensitivity of soil organic matter to global warming is a major uncertainty in the modelling of future greenhouse gas concentrations.

Project Leader: Dr Geoff Abbott
Sponsors: NERC
Forest Research (Mike Perks, Elena Languelova), Purdue University USA (Tim Filley)
Start/end dates: 2011-2014

Project Details

Refractory or stable carbon in both forest and grassland soils provides a vehicle for transporting carbon down into the sedimentary column and thus acts as a sink.

However it has come to light recently that the increase in temperature at the earth’s surface is causing an increase in the rate of decomposition of carbon therefore resulting in the possibility that carbon sinks may one day turn into carbon sources.

A recent development has been to investigate the soils in tropical rainforests such as the Amazon.


Academic Staff

  • Dr Geoff Abbott