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Title: Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter

item HARDEN, JENNIFER - Stanford University
item HUGELIUS, GUSTAF - Stockholm University
item AHLSTROM, ANDERS - Lund University
item BLANKINSHIP, JOEY - University Of Arizona
item BOND-LAMBERTY, BEN - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
item LAWRENCE, COREY - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item LOISEL, JULIE - Texas A&M University
item MALHOTRA, AVNI - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
item JACKSON, ROBERT - Stanford University
item OGLE, STEPHEN - Colorado State University
item Phillips, Claire

Submitted to: Global Change Biology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2017
Publication Date: 10/5/2017
Citation: Harden, J., Hugelius, G., Ahlstrom, A., Blankinship, J., Bond-Lamberty, B., Lawrence, C., Loisel, J., Malhotra, A., Jackson, R., Ogle, S., Phillips, C.L. 2017. Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter. Global Change Biology. 24(2):e705-e718.

Interpretive Summary: Soil organic matter (SOM) has traditionally been studied by two rather separate scientific communities that have been publishing in rather disparate journals, one focused on soil health and productivity in context of agricultural management and the other focused on the terrestrial carbon (C) cycle and its role in climate regulation. Increasingly, the goals of these communities are converging and should not be pursued in isolation from each other. Here, we report on identified gaps in data, modeling, and communication that underscore the need for an open, shared network to frame and guide the study of SOM and soil C. As newly engaged members of the International Soil Carbon Network, we propose the development of a searchable database, a new community-based soil C model, and improved sharing of technology, data, protocols, and experiences with other organizations engaged in soil characterization and soil health initiatives.

Technical Abstract: Soil organic matter (SOM), and its main constituent, soil organic carbon (SOC), govern many physical and chemical characteristics of soils, and help to determine soil's capacity for fertility, ecosystem productivity, and carbon sequestration. With over 75% of the SOC in the top meter of soil directly affected by human land use, the ability to detect shifts in SOC and to potentially increase SOC storage is increasingly important for scientific and societal challenges. Yet changes in SOC are as problematic to measure and predict as they are important for climate and land-use planning. As members of the International Soil Carbon Network (ISCN), we identified the following goals to address complex problems in soil C science: (1) identify key datasets needed to improve our detection of broad-scale soil C trends and understanding of SOM-C stabilization and destabilization mechanisms, (2) set up infrastructure to rescue, centralize, and disseminate currently disparate soil data sets relevant to critical soil processes, (3) develop a robust and modular modeling platform for developing process-based models that would move field data and localized experiments into a larger Earth systems framework and (4) improve the connection between soil C-cycle science and land management practices. These goals can be achieved as the ISCN improves the exchange of ideas, data, modeling tools, with other networks, organizations, and institutions.