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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Forage Seed and Cereal Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #371841

Research Project: Improving Plant, Soil, and Cropping Systems Health and Productivity through Advanced Integration of Comprehensive Management Practices

Location: Forage Seed and Cereal Research

Title: How much will soils warm?

Author
item Phillips, Claire

Submitted to: Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/2/2020
Publication Date: 5/6/2020
Citation: Phillips, C.L. 2020. How much will soils warm? Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JG005668.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JG005668

Interpretive Summary: Soil warming is expected to increase microbial decomposition, further contributing to rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Despite the importance of soil warming to the fields of biogeochemistry and climate change science, we have little information on the fundamental questions of how much the Earth’s soil has warmed, and how much it is projected to warm. This commentary highlights three recent publications that analyzed predictions of soil warming in comparison to air warming. Two of the studies showed the air warming is a good proxy for soil warming at low latitudes, but not at high latitudes, due to the presence of snow and ice. The third study examined how much heat is predicted to be stored in soils, and found the models considerably underestimate continental heat storage in comparison to a geophysical dataset. All three papers make the case for needing a more concerted effort to scrutinize soil temperature modeling and validate against observations.

Technical Abstract: Soil warming is expected to increase microbial decomposition, further contributing to rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Despite the importance of soil warming to the fields of biogeochemistry and climate change science, we have little information on the fundamental questions of how much the Earth’s soil has warmed, and how much it is projected to warm. This commentary highlights three recent publications that analyzed predictions of soil warming in comparison to air warming. Two of the studies showed the air warming is a good proxy for soil warming at low latitudes, but not at high latitudes, due to the presence of snow and ice. The third study examined how much heat is predicted to be stored in soils, and found the models considerably underestimate continental heat storage in comparison to a geophysical dataset. All three papers make the case for needing a more concerted effort to scrutinize soil temperature modeling and validate against observations.