Potential for soil carbon sequestration of eroded areas in subtropical China

Xueda Shi, H. J. Wang, D. S. Yu, David Weindorf, X. F. Cheng, X. Z. Pan, W. X. Sun, J. M. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Soil plays an important role in the global carbon cycle, and carbon sequestration in soil is important for mitigating global climate change. Historically, soil erosion led to great reductions of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in China. Fortunately, with the economic development and remarkably effective soil erosion control measures in subtropical China over the past 20 years, soil erosion has been greatly decreased. As a result, soil organic carbon sequestration has gradually increased due to the rapid recovery of vegetation in the area. However, little information exists concerning the potential of soil carbon sequestration in the area. This paper introduces a case study in Xingguo County, Jiangxi Province, China, which used to be a typical area with significant soil loss in subtropical China. This work represents a systematic investigation of the interrelations of carbon sequestration potential with soil erosion types, altitudes, soil types and soil parent materials. In this study, 284 soil samples were collected from 151 sampling sites (51 are soil profile sites) to determine soil physicochemical properties including organic carbon content. Soil organic carbon distribution maps of the surface layer (0-20. cm) and whole profile (0-100. cm) were compiled by linking soil types to the polygons of digital soil maps using GIS. Assuming that SOC was lost following the destruction of native vegetation, these lands hold great promise for potentially sequestering carbon again. The potential of soil carbon sequestration in the study area was estimated by subtracting the organic carbon status in eroded soils from that in non-eroded soils under undisturbed forest. Results show that the potential of SOC in the surface layer is 4.47. Tg. C while that in the whole profile is 12.3. Tg. C for the entire county. The greatest potential for carbon sequestration (3.72. Tg. C) is found in severely eroded soil, while non-eroded soil has the smallest potential. Also, soil carbon sequestration potential decreases with increasing altitude. Soils at altitudes of <300. m show the greatest potential (5.01. Tg. C), while those of >800. m have the smallest potential (0.25. Tg. C). Among various soil types, red earths (Humic Acrisols) have the greatest potential of carbon sequestration (5.32. Tg. C), and yellow earths (Ferralic Cambisols) have the smallest (0.15. Tg. C). As for soils derived from various parent materials, soils derived from phyllite possess the greatest carbon sequestration potential, and soils from Quaternary red clays have the smallest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-327
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Carbon sequestration
  • China
  • Eroded areas
  • Potential


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