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CR 45:193-205 (2010)  -  DOI:

Estimating changes in Scottish soil carbon stocks using ECOSSE. II. Application

Jo Smith1,*, Pia Gottschalk1, Jessica Bellarby1, Stephen Chapman2, Allan Lilly2, Willie Towers2, John Bell2, Kevin Coleman3, Dali Nayak1, Mark Richards1, Jon Hillier1, Helen Flynn1, Martin Wattenbach1, Matt Aitkenhead1,2, Jagadeesh Yeluripati1, Jenny Farmer1, Ronnie Milne4, Amanda Thomson4, Chris Evans5, Andy Whitmore3, Pete Falloon6, Pete Smith1

1Institute of Biological & Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Science, University of Aberdeen, 23 St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
2Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
3Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
4Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK
5Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
6Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB, UK

ABSTRACT: In order to predict the response of carbon (C)-rich soils to external change, models are needed that accurately reflect the conditions of these soils. Here we present an example application of the new Estimation of Carbon in Organic Soils – Sequestration and Emissions (ECOSSE) model to estimate net change in soil C in response to changes in land use in Scotland. The ECOSSE estimate of annual change in soil C stocks for Scotland between 2000 and 2009 is –810 ± 89 kt yr–1, equivalent to 0.037 ± 0.004% yr–1. Increasing the area of land-use change from arable to grass has the greatest potential to sequester soil C, and reducing the area of change from grass to arable has the greatest potential to reduce losses of soil C. Across Scotland, simulated changes in soil C from C-rich soils (C content >6%) between 1950 and 2009 is –63 Mt, compared with –35 Mt from non-C-rich mineral soils; losses from C-rich soils between 2000 and 2009 make up 64% of the total soil C losses. One mitigation option that could be used in upland soils to achieve zero net loss of C from Scottish soils is to stop conversion of semi-natural land to grassland and increase conversion of grassland to semi-natural land by 125% relative to the present rate. Mitigation options involving forestry are not included here because the data available to calculate losses of soil C do not account for losses of soil C on drainage of semi-natural land.

KEY WORDS: Organic soils · Dynamics simulation modelling · Changes in soil C stocks · Land-use change · Climate change

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Cite this article as: Smith J, Gottschalk P, Bellarby J, Chapman S and others (2010) Estimating changes in Scottish soil carbon stocks using ECOSSE. II. Application. Clim Res 45:193-205.

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