Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Soil carbon 'blowing in the wind'

Date:
August 6, 2013
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Australian soils are losing about 1.6 million tons of carbon per year from wind erosion and dust storms affecting agricultural productivity, our economy and carbon accounts, according to new research.

Dust storm.
Credit: Ashley Whitworth / Fotolia

Australian soils are losing about 1.6 million tonnes of carbon per year from wind erosion and dust storms affecting agricultural productivity, our economy and carbon accounts, according to new research.

Top soil is rich in nutrients and carbon but is increasingly being blown away by events such as the 'Red Dawn' in Sydney in 2009.

When wind lifts carbon dust into the atmosphere it changes the amount and location of soil carbon.

Some carbon falls back to the ground while some leaves Australia or ends up in the ocean.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Adrian Chappell and an international team of experts in wind erosion and dust emission recently calculated the extent of these carbon dust emissions.

"Carbon stored in our soils helps sustain plant growth. Our modelling shows that millions of tonnes of dust and carbon are blowing away, and it is uncertain where all that ends up," Dr Chappell said.

"We need to understand the impact of this dust carbon cycle to develop more accurate national and global estimates of carbon balances and to be able to prepare for life in a changing climate.

"Australia's carbon accounts, and even global carbon accounts, have not yet taken wind or water erosion into consideration and when this happens it could have significant impacts on how we manage our landscapes. While soil organic carbon lost through dust is not a major contributor to Australia's total emissions, it is a major factor in our deteriorating soil health."

Carbon is an essential ingredient for the healthy soils which underpin Australia's capability to produce enough food to feed 60 million people.

Understanding the movement of carbon through the landscape is a necessity if we are to improve the quality of our soils and support farmers and land managers to store carbon.

This is not an issue for Australia alone. Other countries will also need to know the fate of their wind-blown carbon; countries like the USA and China with larger dust emissions will likely face similar challenges when including wind borne dust in their carbon accounting.

With the frequency and intensity of dust storms likely to increase in Australia, the impact of wind erosion would also increase.

This redistribution of carbon needs to be better understood so we can improve our land management practices to better protect our soils.

Recent research estimated that the 'Red Dawn' dust storm that passed over the eastern coast of Australia on 23 September 2009 cost the economy of New South Wales A$300 million, mainly for household cleaning and associated activities.

The research paper "Soil organic carbon dust emission: an omitted global source of atmospheric CO2" was published in the latest issue of the journal Global Change Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adrian Chappell, Nicholas P. Webb, Harry J. Butler, Craig L. Strong, Grant H. McTainsh, John F. Leys, Raphael A. Viscarra Rossel. Soil organic carbon dust emission: an omitted global source of atmospheric CO2. Global Change Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12305

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Soil carbon 'blowing in the wind'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111258.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2013, August 6). Soil carbon 'blowing in the wind'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111258.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Soil carbon 'blowing in the wind'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130806111258.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
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