Study: Arctic soil carbon underestimated

Dec 06, 2005

University of Washington researchers say scientists studying climate warming might be underestimating the amount of soil carbon in the high Arctic.

A three-year study of northwest Greenland soils found a key previous study greatly underestimated the organic carbon stored in the soil. That's because the earlier work generally looked only at the top 10 inches of soil, said Jennifer Horwath, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.

The 1992 study estimated 1 billion metric tons of organic carbon was contained in the soil of the polar semidesert, a 623,000-square-mile Arctic region. That research also estimated about 17 million metric tons of carbon was sequestered in the soil of the adjacent polar desert.

But Horwath dug substantially deeper and found significantly more carbon. She concluded the polar semidesert contains more than 8.7 billion metric tons of carbon, and the polar desert more than 2.1 billion metric tons.

"In the polar semidesert, I found nearly nine times more carbon than was previously reported," she said. "In the polar desert, I'm finding 125 times more carbon."

Horwath presents her findings Tuesday during the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: NASA telescopes set limits on space-time quantum 'foam'

Related Stories

Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo

May 20, 2015

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. ...

SMAP satellite extends 5-meter reflector boom

Feb 27, 2015

Like a cowboy at a rodeo, NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), has triumphantly raised its "arm" and unfurled a huge golden "lasso" (antenna) that it will soon ...

NASA selects launch contractor for three missions

Jul 17, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo., to launch the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) and Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) ...

Image: The icy cap at Mars' south pole

Feb 10, 2015

Swirls of chocolate, caramel and cream – this image is definitely one to trigger sweet-toothed cravings. Smooth cream-coloured plateaus surrounded by cocoa-dusted ridges interspersed with caramel-hued streaks ...

Recommended for you

NASA telescopes set limits on space-time quantum 'foam'

23 minutes ago

A team of scientists has used X-ray and gamma-ray observations of some of the most distant objects in the universe to better understand the nature of space and time. Their results set limits on the quantum ...

Shining message about the end of the Dark Ages

2 hours ago

An international team, including researchers from the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), has discovered three "cosmic Methusalems" from the earliest years of the universe. These unusual stars are about 13 ...

The kinematics of merging galaxies

3 hours ago

The unprecedented sensitivity of space telescopes has powered a revolution over the past decade in our understanding of galaxies in the young universe during its first billion years of existence. These primitive ...

Ariane 5's second launch of 2015

5 hours ago

An Ariane 5 lifted off last night from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites into their planned orbits.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.