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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Organic Carbon in Soils of the World


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 57 No. 1, p. 192-194
    Received: Apr 20, 1992

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Hari Eswaran ,
  2. Evert Van Den Berg and
  3. Paul Reich
  1. Contribution from World Soil Resources, USDA Soil Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013



The C stored in soils is nearly three times that in the aboveground biomass and approximately double that in the atmosphere. Reliable estimates have been difficult to obtain due to a lack of global data on kinds of soils and the amount of C in each soil. With new data bases, our study is able to provide more reliable data than previous estimates. Globally, 1576 Pg of C is stored in soils, with ≈ 506 Pg (32%) of this in soils of the tropics. It is also estimated that ≈ 40% of the C in soils of the tropics is in forest soils. Other studies have shown that deforestation can result in 20 to 50% loss of this stored C, largely through erosion.

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