Project

Back to overview

Molecular and radiocarbon sentinels of soil organic matter vulnerability

Applicant Eglinton Timothy
Number 143023
Funding scheme NRP 68 Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource
Research institution Departement Erdwissenschaften ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geochemistry
Start/End 01.01.2013 - 31.01.2017
Approved amount 321'939.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Geochemistry
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences

Keywords (11)

Soil organic matter; soil vulnerability; molecular index of soil quality; climate change; land use change; Swiss soil 14C database; compound-specific radiocarbon; radiocarbon; soil carbon; database; Vulnerability indicators

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Böden sind der grösste Kohlenstoffspeicher in der Schweiz. Bisher ist nur unzureichend bekannt, welche Auswirkungen Klimawandel und Änderungen der Bewirtschaftung auf den Kohlenstoff im Boden haben. Timothy Eglinton untersucht mit seinem Team, wie der Kohlenstoff in unterschiedlichen Schweizer Böden auf entsprechende Störungen reagiert.
Lay summary

Angesichts der Bedeutung der Böden als grösste Kohlenstoffspeicher in der Schweiz interessiert es, wie sich der Kohlenstoff im Boden bei zunehmender Erwärmung und Trockenheit verändert. Die Veränderungen lassen sich dabei unter anderem anhand der Kohlenstoffisotope verschiedener Bodenfraktionen beobachten.

Das Forschungsteam ermittelt die 14C-Daten für über 1000 bereits archivierte und aktuelle Bodenproben aus Schweizer Wald-, Gras- und Moorökosystemen. Diese Messungen sowie Ergebnisse aus Simulationsexperimenten im Labor fliessen in Modellierungsansätze ein. Damit lassen sich Vorhersagen machen, wie der Kohlenstoff in Schweizer Böden auf den künftigen Klima- und Landnutzungswandel reagieren wird. Die Untersuchungen erfolgen koordiniert mit den Forschungsteams von Frank Hagedorn (WSL) und Samuel Abiven (Universität Zürich).

Das Forschungsteam baut eine 14C-Datenbank für Schweizer Böden auf, die in Kombination mit Modellen und räumlicher Kartierung helfen wird, Verluste an Bodenkohlenstoff in Einzugsgebieten und auf regionaler Skala abzuschätzen. Dadurch liefert das Projekt neue Erkenntnisse zur Dynamik des Bodenkohlenstoffs und zu den Mechanismen seiner Speicherung. Die 14C-Datenbank ist zugleich Grundlage und praktisches Handwerkszeug für ein gezieltes künftiges Kohlenstoffmanagement in Schweizer Böden. Schliesslich dienen die Erkenntnisse als wissenschaftliche Grundlage für die Verhandlungen auf dem globalen Kohlenstoffmarkt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les sols sont le plus important réservoir de carbone de Suisse. Les conséquences des perturbations sur le carbone qu’ils contiennent sont encore mal connues. Timothy Eglinton étudie avec son équipe comment le carbone que contiennent différents sols du pays réagit au changement climatique et à l’évolution de leur exploitation.
Lay summary

Eu égard à l’importance des sols en tant que principalréservoir de carbone de Suisse, le projet examine l’évolution du carbone quecontiennent les sols face au réchauffement du climat et à l’accroissement de lasécheresse. Les changements peuvent notamment être observés à l’aide desisotopes du carbone des différentes fractions du sol.

L’équipe de recherche établit les données 14Cpour plus de 1000 échantillons de sol archivés et actuels provenantd’écosystèmes forestiers, herbeux et marécageux de Suisse. Ces mesures et lesrésultats des simulations effectuées en laboratoire sont transférés dans lessystèmes de modélisation. Il est ainsi possible de prévoir la manière dont lecarbone présent dans les sols helvétiques réagira au changement climatique et àl’évolution future de l’utilisation des sols. Cette étude est menée encollaboration avec les équipes de recherche de Frank Hagedorn (WSL) et deSamuel Abiven (Université de Zurich).

L’équipe de recherche crée une banque de données 14Cpour les sols suisses qui, associée à des modèles et à une cartographiespatiale, permettra d’évaluer les pertes de carbone contenu dans les sols dansles bassins versants et au niveau régional. Le projet livre ainsi de nouvellesconnaissances sur la dynamique du carbone des sols et sur les mécanismesconduisant à son stockage. Tout en en formant la base, la banque de données 14Cconstitue un outil pratique de gestion ciblée du carbone dans les sols suissespour l’avenir. Enfin, les conclusions de ce projet peuvent servir de fondementscientifique aux négociations qui ont cours sur le marché mondial du carbone.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Soils are the largest carbon reservoirs in Switzerland. Not enough is yet known about the effects perturbation has on carbon in the soil. Timothy Eglinton and his team are examining how carbon in various Swiss soils reacts to climate change and changes in land management.
Lay summary

Facedwith the importance of soils as the largest carbon reservoir in Switzerland, itis of interest how carbon in the soil changes with increasing warming anddrought. One of the ways in which these changes can be observed is with the useof carbon isotopes in various soil fractions.

Theresearch team is recording the 14C data for over 1,000 alreadyarchived and current soil samples from Swiss forest, grassland and peatlandsystems. The measurements and the results from the simulation experiments inthe laboratory affect the modelling approaches taken. This means that forecastscan be made on how carbon in Swiss soils will react to future climate and landuse change. The investigations are being carried out in coordination with theresearch team of Frank Hagedorn (WSL) and Samuel Abiven (University of Zurich).

Theresearch team is setting up a 14C database for Swiss soils. Thisdatabase, combined with models and land mapping, will help to estimate soilcarbon loss within catchment areas and on a regional scale. The project willthereby provide new information on the dynamics of soil carbon and on themechanisms involved in its storage. The 14C database will serve atthe same time as the basis and as a practical tool for targeted, future carbonmanagement in Swiss soils. Finally, this information will serve as thescientific basis for negotiations on the global carbon market.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.05.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Variability in 14C contents of soil organic matter at the plot and regional scale across climatic and geologic gradients
(2016), Variability in 14C contents of soil organic matter at the plot and regional scale across climatic and geologic gradients, in Biogeosciences.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Elisabeth Graf Pannatier, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
L. Walthert, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Francien Peterse, U. Utrecht Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Patrick Schleppi, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Frank Hagedorn, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Samuel Abiven, Dept. of Geography, University of Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Geoscience Union Meeting 2016 Talk given at a conference High-temporal resolution radiocarbon analyses of DOC in soils from an alpine and temperate ecosystem 18.04.2016 Vienna, Austria van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Eglinton Timothy;
European Geoscience Union Meeting 201 Talk given at a conference Insights into soil carbon dynamics across climatic and geologic gradients from time-series and fraction-specific radiocarbon analysis 18.04.2016 Vienna, Austria Zell Claudia; Eglinton Timothy; van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Feng Xiajoung;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2015 Talk given at a conference Insights into soil organic matter stability using temporal, fraction- and compound-specific radiocarbon analysis 20.11.2015 Basel, Switzerland van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Zell Claudia; Feng Xiajoung; Eglinton Timothy;
Soil Organic Matter 2015 (SOM 2015) Poster Insights into soil organic matter stability from compound- and fraction-specific radiocarbon analysis 21.09.2015 Gottingen, Germany Eglinton Timothy; van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Zell Claudia;
Soil Organic Matter 2015 (SOM 2015) Talk given at a conference Molecular 14C perspectives on organic carbon dynamics within soils and across present and past landscapes 21.09.2015 Gottingen, Germany van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Zell Claudia; Feng Xiajoung; Eglinton Timothy;
12th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Scales of spatial & temporal variability in radiocarbon contents of organic carbon across different regions in Swiss soils 21.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Feng Xiajoung; Zell Claudia;
12th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster Molecular and radiocarbon sentinels of soil organic matter vulnerability: a project introduction 21.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Feng Xiajoung; Zell Claudia; van der Voort Tessa Sophia;
NRP68 2nd Programme Conference Poster Sentinels of Soil Organic Matter vulnerability 20.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Feng Xiajoung; van der Voort Tessa Sophia; Zell Claudia; Eglinton Timothy;
Radiocarbon in the environment Conference 2014 Talk given at a conference Radiocarbon as a tool to assess organic matter vulnerability across different regions in Swiss soils 18.08.2014 Belfast, Ireland van der Voort Tessa Sophia;
Workshop on GDGT-based proxies: State of the art and future directions. Poster Exploring relationships between GDGT composition and radiocarbon age of soil organic matter 23.04.2014 NIOZ, Texel, Netherlands van der Voort Tessa Sophia;
European Geosciences Union (EGU) Talk given at a conference Assessing scales of spatial & temporal variability in radiocarbon contents of soil organic carbon 17.04.2014 Vienna, Austria van der Voort Tessa Sophia;


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
163162 Climate and Anthropogenic PerturbationS of Land-Ocean Carbon tracKs (CAPS-LOCK2) 01.01.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
160066 Paleolimnological tracers of early farming impacts on soil degradation and lakes 01.10.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

With the rapid pace of both land use and climate change, potential shifts in soil organic carbon (SOC) quantity and quality are a major concern. Swiss forest and grassland soils represent the nation’s largest carbon reservoir and hold enormous economic value. However, the vulnerability of Swiss forest and grassland SOC is not well characterized. In the frame of the NRP68, we propose to exploit 14C as a sensitive tracer of mobilization of aged SOC as well as modern SOC turnover in Swiss forest and grassland soils that are perceived to be under threat of perturbation due to climate change and/or direct human intervention. We proposed to collect 14C data of at least 1,000 archived and contemporary soil samples and initiate a Swiss soil 14C database. This database, coupled with soil carbon models and GIS mapping, will allow the assessment of potential SOC losses in regional and watershed processes. On a second level, in combination with field sampling and laboratory simulation experiments, we will investigate the distribution and fate of recent and aged SOC under land use (agricultural conversion) and climatic (warming and drought) changes and explore the radiocarbon composition and molecular indices of source-specific tracers (such as lignin phenols and plant wax lipids) and soil fractions (water-extractable and density fractions) as early warning tools or “sentinels” of SOC vulnerability. This project will produce the first comprehensive set of 14C data on a series of SOC components using compound-specific radiocarbon analysis, shed new insights on soil carbon dynamics and mechanisms controlling SOC storage, and provide practical indicators of recording soil function changes and managing soil carbon in future.
-