IAB Research Project Description

Assessing the Role of Deep Soil Organic Carbon in Interior Alaska: Data, Models, and Spatial/Temporal Dynamics

The loss of soil carbon of northern high latitude terrestrial ecosystems in response to climate warming has the potential to act as a positive feedback to climate warming. In Interior, Alaska, soil carbon storage has been measured in hundreds of locations by a number of investigators and surveyors, yet local to regional variations in C storage and changes in storage remain highly uncertain, of particular importance are carbon storage estimates for deep soils in Interior Alaska, where permafrost is generally within 1 degree C of thawing and where permafrost has been warming and fire disturbance has substantially increased in recent decades. Thus, carbon in soils of Interior Alaska may be particularly vulnerable to decomposition from warming soils and fire disturbance in the region. McGuire proposes two immediate efforts to improve the current state of knowledge of soil carbon in Alaska: 1) Compilation and synthesis of available existing data in the development of statistical models that will estimate soil carbon storage at 1-km resolution across the landscape based on association between landscape features and fire history; 2) Incorporation of this information into a biogeochemical modeling framework that can identify how strategies for additional sampling of soil organic carbon will reduce uncertainties in estimating regional carbon dynamics in Interior Alaska. The results of this assessment will provide policy makers with information about the degree to which carbon sequestration efforts in Alaska and elsewhere in the United States may be offset by responses of carbon storage in ecosystems in Interior Alaska.

Project Funding

U.S. Geological Survey
1 Oct 2008 – 31 Jan 2009
IAB Proposal #08-055
UAF Grant #G5068
IAB Project #161

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412