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Additional soil organic carbon storage potential in global croplands
Soil  (IF5.841),  Pub Date : 2021-09-30, DOI: 10.5194/soil-2021-73
José Padarian, Budiman Minasny, Alex B. McBratney, Pete Smith

Abstract. Soil organic carbon sequestration (SOCseq) is considered the most attractive carbon capture technology to partially mitigate climate change. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding the potential of SOCseq. The additional storage potential on existing global cropland is missing. SOCseq is region-specific and conditioned by management but most global estimates use fixed accumulation rates or time frames. Here, we show how the SOC storage potential and its steady state varies globally depending on climate, land use and soil. Using 83,416 soil observations, we developed a quantile regression neural network that quantifies the SOC variation within soils with similar characteristics. This allows us to identify similar areas that present higher SOC with the difference representing an additional storage potential. The estimated additional SOC storage potential of 29 to 67 Pg C in the topsoil of global croplands equates to only 2 to 5 years of emissions offsetting and 32 % of agriculture's 92 Pg historical carbon debt estimate due to conversion from natural ecosystems. Since SOC is temperature-dependent, this potential is likely to reduce by 18 % by 2040 due to climate change.