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 Mαire 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.

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.

Mαire 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 August 23, 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 August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) — Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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