Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide?

Date:
January 8, 2014
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
Global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise -- in 2012 alone, 35.7 billion tons of this greenhouse gas entered the atmosphere. Some of it is absorbed by the oceans, plants and soil. They provide a significant reservoir of carbon. Scientists have now discovered how organic carbon is stored in soil: The carbon only binds to certain soil structures. This means that soil's capacity to absorb CO2 needs to be re-assessed and incorporated into today's climate models.

Distribution of organic matter in soil: carbon tends to bind to specific rough mineral surfaces, known as hot spots (yellow areas).
Credit: C. Vogel/TUM

Previous studies have established that carbon binds to tiny mineral particles. In this latest study, published in Nature Communications, researchers of the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown that the surface of the minerals plays just as important a role as their size. "The carbon binds to minerals that are just a few thousandths of a millimeter in size -- and it accumulates there almost exclusively on rough and angular surfaces," explains Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, TUM Chair of Soil Science.

The role of microorganisms in sequestering carbon

It is presumed that the rough mineral surfaces provide an attractive habitat for microbes. These convert the carbon and play a part in binding it to minerals. "We discovered veritable hot spots with a high proportion of carbon in the soil," relates Cordula Vogel, the lead author of the study. "Furthermore, new carbon binds to areas which already have a high carbon content."

These carbon hot spots are, however, only found on around 20 percent of the mineral surfaces. It was previously assumed that carbon is evenly distributed in the soil. "Thanks to our study, we can now pin-point the soil that is especially good for sequestering CO2," continues Kögel-Knabner. "The next step is to include these findings in carbon cycle models."

Mass spectrometer helps to visualize molecules

The sample material used by the team was loess, a fertile agricultural soil found in all parts of the world -- which makes it a very important carbon store. The researchers were able to take ultra-precise measurements using the NanoSIMS mass spectrometer. This procedure allowed them to view and compare even the most minute soil structures.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Cordula Vogel, Carsten W. Mueller, Carmen Höschen, Franz Buegger, Katja Heister, Stefanie Schulz, Michael Schloter, Ingrid Kögel-Knabner. Submicron structures provide preferential spots for carbon and nitrogen sequestration in soils. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3947

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108102441.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2014, January 8). Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108102441.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108102441.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. 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