Skip to Main Content
Soil carbon cycling proxies: Understanding their critical role in predicting climate change feedbacksAuthor(s): Vanessa L. Bailey; Ben Bond-Lamberty; Kristen DeAngelis; A. Stuart Grandy; Christine V Hawkes; Kate Heckman; Kate Lajtha; Richard P. Phillips; Benjamin N. Sulman; Katherine E. O. Todd-Brown; Matthew D. Wallenstein
Source: Global Change Biology
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (566.0 KB)
DescriptionThe complexity of processes and interactions that drive soil C dynamics necessitate the use of proxy variables to represent soil characteristics that cannot be directly measured (correlative proxies), or that aggregate information about multiple soil characteristics into one variable (integrative proxies). These proxies have proven useful for understanding the soil C cycle, which is highly variable in both space and time, and are now being used to make predictions of the fate and persistence of C under future climate scenarios. However, the C pools and processes that proxies represent must be thoughtfully considered in order to minimize uncertainties in empirical understanding. This is necessary to capture the full value of a proxy in model parameters and in model outcomes. Here, we provide specific examples of proxy variables that could improve decision-making, and modeling skill, while also encouraging continued work on their mechanistic underpinnings. We explore the use of three common soil proxies used to study soil C cycling: metabolic quotient, clay content, and physical fractionation. We also consider how emerging data types, such as genome- sequence data, can serve as proxies for microbial community activities. By examining some broad assumptions in soil C cycling with the proxies already in use, we can develop new hypotheses and specify criteria for new and needed proxies.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBailey, Vanessa L.; Bond-Lamberty, Ben; DeAngelis, Kristen; Grandy, A. Stuart; Hawkes, Christine V.; Heckman, Kate; Lajtha, Kate; Phillips, Richard P.; Sulman, Benjamin N.; Todd-Brown, Katherine E. O.; Wallenstein, Matthew D. 2017. Soil carbon cycling proxies: Understanding their critical role in predicting climate change feedbacks. Global Change Biology. 24(3): 895-905. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13926.
Keywordsclay, CUE, models, soil carbon, soil organic matter
- Topographic and soil influences on root productivity of three bioenergy cropping systems
- Existing Soil Carbon Models Do Not Apply to Forested Wetlands
- Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter
XML: View XML