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PLoS One. 2014 May 1;9(5):e95548. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095548. eCollection 2014.

Climate and land use controls on soil organic carbon in the loess plateau region of China.

Author information

1
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China; International Center for Climate and Global Change Research, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, United States of America; College of Science, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.
2
International Center for Climate and Global Change Research, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, United States of America.
3
College of Science, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.
4
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China.

Abstract

The Loess Plateau of China has the highest soil erosion rate in the world where billion tons of soil is annually washed into Yellow River. In recent decades this region has experienced significant climate change and policy-driven land conversion. However, it has not yet been well investigated how these changes in climate and land use have affected soil organic carbon (SOC) storage on the Loess Plateau. By using the Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model (DLEM), we quantified the effects of climate and land use on SOC storage on the Loess Plateau in the context of multiple environmental factors during the period of 1961-2005. Our results show that SOC storage increased by 0.27 Pg C on the Loess Plateau as a result of multiple environmental factors during the study period. About 55% (0.14 Pg C) of the SOC increase was caused by land conversion from cropland to grassland/forest owing to the government efforts to reduce soil erosion and improve the ecological conditions in the region. Historical climate change reduced SOC by 0.05 Pg C (approximately 19% of the total change) primarily due to a significant climate warming and a slight reduction in precipitation. Our results imply that the implementation of "Grain for Green" policy may effectively enhance regional soil carbon storage and hence starve off further soil erosion on the Loess Plateau.

PMID:
24788559
PMCID:
PMC4006802
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0095548
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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