Summary & Purpose
Mountainous terrain defines many dryland regions and results in pronounced variation in soil thickness and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks that is not currently captured by carbon and global climate models. Here we quantify how total profile SOC varies with topographic morphometry, aspect and curvature, to estimate SOC storage within a 1.8 km2 granite-dominated catchment in Idaho, U.S.A. We show that north-facing soil pits have on average 2.9 times more total SOC per area than the south-facing sites, and convergent soil pits have on average 6.4 times more total SOC per area compared to divergent sites. Curvature explained 91% of variation in total profile SOC at a 3-m resolution when the entire vertical dimension of SOC was determined. Catchment SOC stocks were determined from this curvature-SOC model and showed that SOC below 0.3 m depth accounted for >50% of the catchment total SOC, indicating substantial underestimation of SOC stocks if only sampled at shallower depths. We conclude that processes responsible for carbon sequestration in soils vary spatially at relatively small scales, and they can be described in a deterministic fashion given adequate elevation data.
Date of Publication or Submission
This study was conducted in collaboration and cooperation with the USDA Agriculture Research Service, Northwest Watershed Research Center, Boise, Idaho, and landowners within the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory (RC CZO). Support for this research was provided by NSF for RC CZO Cooperative agreement NSF EAR-1331872 (Kathleen Lohse, Principal Investigator; Nancy Glenn, Co-Principal Investigator; Alejandro Flores, Co-Principal Investigator; Shawn Benner, Co-Principal Investigator; Mark Seyfried, Co-Principal Investigator). Data are available at the criticalzone.org data portal. Every sample at RC CZO is registered with an International Geo Sample Number through System for Earth Sample Registration (SESAR). Gordon Gulch data collection was funded by the Keck Geology Consortium, the National Science Foundation (NSF EAR-1062720), University of Connecticut Research Foundation, and NSF Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (NSF EAR-072496). The authors declare no financial conflicts.
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June 2010-June 2015
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Patton, Nicholas R.; Lohse, Kathleen A.; Godsey, Sarah E.; Parsons, Susan B.; and Seyfried, Mark S.. (2018). Topographic Controls of Soil Organic Carbon on Soil-Mantled Landscapes [Data set]. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.18122/B2XT55