Amazon Basin forest pyrogenic carbon stocks: first estimate of deep storage

Koele, Nina, Bird, Michael, Haig, Jordahna, Marimon-Junior, Ben Hur, Marimon, Beatriz Schwantes, Phillips, Oliver L., De Oliveira, Edmar A., Quesada, C.A., and Feldpausch, Ted R. (2017) Amazon Basin forest pyrogenic carbon stocks: first estimate of deep storage. Geoderma, 306. pp. 237-243.

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Amazon Basin forest soils contain considerable soil organic carbon stocks; however, the contribution of soil pyrogenic carbon (PyC) to the total is unknown. PyC is derived from local fires (historical and modern) and external inputs via aeolian deposition. To establish an initial estimate of PyC stocks in non-terra preta forest with no known history of fire, to assess site and vertical variability, as well as to determine optimal sampling design, we sampled 37 one hectare forest plots in the Amazon Basin and analysed PyC via hydrogen pyrolysis of three individual samples per plot and of bulked samples to 200 cm depth. Using our data and published total organic carbon stocks, we present the first field-based estimate of total PyC stock for the Amazon Basin of 1.10 Pg over 0-30 cm soil depth, and 2.76 Pg over 0-100 cm soil depth. This is up to 20 times higher than previously assumed. Three individual samples per 1 ha are sufficient to capture the site variability of PyC in our plots. PyC showed significant, large-scale variability among plots. To capture 50% of the PyC in 200 cm soil profiles, soil must be sampled to a depth of at least 71 cm. PyC represents a significant (11%) portion of total organic carbon in soil profiles 0-200 cm depth. This finding highlights the potentially important role that historical fire has played in modifying soil C stocks. Our data suggest that PyC is an important carbon pool for long-term storage, involved in millennial scale biogeochemical cycling, particularly in the subsurface soil.

Item ID: 50865
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-6259
Keywords: deep mineral soil horizons, soil organic carbon, pyrogenic carbon stability
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This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

Funders: Coordination of Improvement of Personnel in Higher Education (CAPES), Brazil, College of Life and Environmental Science, Univesity of Exeter, NERC, National Council of Science and Technology, Brazil (CNPq)
Projects and Grants: CAPES Science without Borders grant PVE177/2012, NERC NE/N011570/1, CNPq 403725-2012-7, CNPq 457602/2012-0
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 07:36
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3703 Geochemistry > 370304 Organic geochemistry @ 50%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3709 Physical geography and environmental geoscience > 370901 Geomorphology and earth surface processes @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960906 Forest and Woodlands Land Management @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 70%
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