Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New atlas underlines significant role of northern soils in climate change

Date:
May 4, 2010
Source:
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Summary:
European researchers have launched a soil atlas of the world's northernmost regions, where more than half the carbon present in Earth's soils is stored. Although there has been much focus on the melting of arctic ice as one of the indicators for climate change, 1700 billion tons of organic carbon are kept in the soils of the northern permafrost region and their thawing could lead to substantial release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and would further increase global warming.

The Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region is the first compilation providing all the available information on this important carbon pool as well as other key data on northern soils.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Commission, Joint Research Centre

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at the European Parliament has launched a soil atlas of the world's northernmost regions, where more than half the carbon present in Earth's soils is stored.

Related Articles


She will simultaneously inaugurate an exhibition on the work of the Commission's Joint Research Centre, which produced the Atlas. It covers regions above the latitude of 50° N, which represent 16% of global land surface. Although there has been much focus on the melting of arctic ice as one of the indicators for climate change, 1700 billion tons of organic carbon are kept in the soils of the northern permafrost region and their thawing could lead to substantial release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and would further increase global warming. The Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region is the first compilation providing all the available information on this carbon pool as well as other important data on northern soils. The Atlas will therefore provide a valuable scientific input to climate change and sustainable development models.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science said: "This atlas is a unique source of information for researchers, policy makers, teachers and the general public on the characteristics of northern soil and raises awareness of its environmental importance and global significance. It shows the possible impacts of climate change on permafrost-affected soils and explains the critical role that they play in the global climate and carbon cycles." Organic carbon in soils is the biggest terrestrial carbon pool and presents an important factor in future climate change projections. Permanently frozen grounds in the northern polar region, together with extensive peatlands, ensure that those soils are a significant carbon sink.

These important carbon stores need special attention because the boreal and arctic regions that house them are expected to warm more rapidly than the rest of the world. Similarly to what happens when you pull the electricity plug of a freezer, decomposition of organic matter starts with increased temperatures and leads, in the case of soil, to emissions of CO2 and methane. This new atlas is a comprehensive source of data, which will allow scientists and policymakers to understand whether there is a back coupling effect on global warming and underpin the development of policies to protect the arctic carbon sinks and thus our climate.

The 144-page atlas is the result of a three-year collaborative project with partners from northern EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA and Russia, and gives a detailed overview of circumpolar soil resources, which are also relevant to agriculture, forest management, water management, land use planning, infrastructure, housing and energy transport networks. In a clear style, the atlas describes the origin and major characteristics of the different soil types that can be found in this environment.

The Soil Atlas is being launched by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the European Parliament, during the inauguration of the "Science meets policy" JRC exhibition. Leading JRC scientists are on-hand to demonstrate and discuss with journalists and other visitors how the research work of the JRC supports EU decision-makers from the conception to the assessment of EU policies.

More information on the Soil Atlas of the Northern Circumpolar Region can be found at: http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/library/maps/Circumpolar/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC). "New atlas underlines significant role of northern soils in climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504104520.htm>.
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC). (2010, May 4). New atlas underlines significant role of northern soils in climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504104520.htm
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC). "New atlas underlines significant role of northern soils in climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504104520.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins